Tax scam targeting seniors going around again

It died down after some arrests last year but it appears to be back

RCMP say the old CRA tax scam is circulating again but there are ways for citizens to protect themselves. (Black Press Photo)

It’s an old tax scam that’s targeting Chilliwack residents again.

A robotic male voice claiming to be “Officer Ryan Smith” of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) was left on a local answering machine in Chilliwack. It says someone is “under investigation” for tax return discrepancies.

“I was worried about it after I got the message,” said Erika Weiss, a Chilliwack resident who said she wanted to warn others.

The local senior didn’t think it sounded legit but she wasn’t really sure.

“Some of us seniors might get baffled by this,” Weiss said. “I guess criminals prey on us. Some have lost their life savings, and I don’t want this to happen to anyone.”

After her son called the legitimate Canada Revenue Agency number, not the one left on the answering machine, they found out the call was part of a well-known scam.

There are ways to protect yourself from this kind of fraud.

“Police have recently experienced a rash of such complaints in Chilliwack. The thieves are convincing, but the RCMP reminds everyone, CRA officials will not threaten court charges, jail, or deportation to scare you into paying debt,” said RCMP Cpl. Mike Rail. “The CRA does not request prepaid credit cards,”

RCMP is investigating these frauds and urge anyone receiving telephone calls from agents claiming to be from the CRA to contact the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611.

To confirm you have been contacted by a CRA representative the public is encouraged to call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individual concerns or 1-800-959-5525 for business- related calls.

Learn how to protect yourself from being a victim of fraud by visiting the CRA Website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/fraudprevention .

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre knows all about this particular tax scam.

It died down after some arrests last year, but the scam seems to be circulating again, and targeting people in Chilliwack.

“The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) continues to receive reports associated to tax scams targeting Canadians by email and phone.”

CAFC fraud protection tips:

1. The CRA never asks for personal information through an email, text, or link.

2. The CRA never asks for payment by prepaid credit cards or iTunes gift cards, and it does not send emails containing details of a tax refund or Interac e-transfer payments.

3. The CRA advises Canadians to confirm the status of their tax accounts before taking any action that may be the result of pressure from suspicious calls or emails, and to verify the legitimacy of the communication by contacting the CRA directly at 1-800-959-8281 or by checking My Account or My Business Account.

4. For more information about fraud scams involving the CRA, visit Protect yourself against fraud.

5. If you’ve shared personal information, contact Equifax and Trans Union to place fraud alerts on your account.

6. If you’ve shared banking information with the scammers, contact your financial institution to place alerts on your account.