There are a variety of scams in Canada – with new ones invented daily. To identify legitimate communications from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and protect yourself from scammers, be aware and know what to expect when the CRA contacts you.

What to expect from the CRA

The CRA uses various methods to communicate with individuals and businesses, including phone, email, mail and text message (in specific instances). Using these methods, the CRA may reach out to:

• ask about a tax debt
• initiate an audit process
• offer free tax help for your small business
offer support for your employees to access benefits and credits
• send you an email notification when a new message or a document, such as a notice of assessment or reassessment, is available for you to view in secure CRA portals such as My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client. View the full list of email notifications you will receive to confirm if it's legitimate
• provide you a link to a webpage, form, or publication that you asked for during a telephone call or a meeting with an agent

It is also important to know what the CRA will not do. The CRA will not:

• give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link
• demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
• use aggressive language or threaten you with an arrest or to send the police
• send you an email with a link to your refund
• email you a link that demands you fill in an online form with personal or financial details
• set up a meeting in a public place to take a payment

For a full list of how to identify legitimate communications from the CRA, visit the CRA's Slam the scam page.

If the CRA calls you

If you receive a phone call from the CRA, it is important to make sure the caller is a CRA employee and not a scammer. A legitimate CRA employee will identify themselves when they contact you. The employee will give you their name and a phone number. Make sure the caller is a CRA employee before you give any information over the phone. This will protect you from giving money or personal information to a scammer.

If you're suspicious, this is how you can make sure the caller is from the CRA.

Protect your CRA accounts

There are many steps you can take to protect your personal and business accounts:

• change your user IDs and passwords regularly
• use unique and complex passwords
• create a personal identification number (PIN) in My Account
• sign up for email notifications
• monitor your account for suspicious activity
• update your personal and business information

For more information, visit Security of CRA My Account and My Business Account.

What to do if you suspect you are a victim of a scam or fraud

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam or fraud:

• Contact your local police service
Contact the CRA if you think your CRA user ID or password has been compromised to place additional security measures on your account
Contact Service Canada if your social insurance number (SIN) has been stolen
• Report the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

If you have had your account compromised and are unable to comply with your tax obligations, you may be eligible for taxpayer relief from any resulting penalties or interest. For more information about relief from penalties or interest and the related forms and publications, see Cancel or waive penalties or interest.

SOURCE: Canada Revenue Agency

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