It’s Fraud Prevention Month and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers and businesses to be on the lookout for imposters pretending to be government agents.
“The Canada Revenue Agency will not call you and threaten to send you to jail if you don’t pay your back taxes,” says Wes Lafortune, Media and Communications Specialist of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “Sometimes called an extortion scam or a government imposter scam, the bottom line is it’s a scam. Do not engage with anyone making these threats.”
Lafortune adds the CRA will never demand immediate payment, nor will they ask for payments by Interac e-transfer, cryptocurrency, prepaid credit cards or gift cards. He says that with tax time coming up the BBB expects an increase in the number of fraudulent CRA calls.
“You get a call out of the blue from a supposed government official and then they start using aggressive language. Some people might be afraid of that especially if you are a newcomer to Canada. You might be afraid of governments and the leverage they use is fear. They might threaten you with jail time.”
Lafortune says we shouldn’t provide personal information through email or online, and we should try to limit the amount of information you give anyone. “The ultimate pieces of information are your credit card numbers, ban account number, and social insurance numbers. Those should be very protected. Everyone should regularly change their passwords and keep that information in a safe place.”
He says if the CRA contacts us it is typically through the mail, and we can call them and ask if they are trying to reach us for some reason. “More and more Canadians are using the CRA’s online systems, and they are encouraging that. They are not going to ask you to pay your back taxes in bitcoin or gift cards. They aren’t going to threaten you and they certainly aren’t going to threaten to send you to jail If you get a call, hang up, and that is the end of that.”