Norman Schott knew there was “something fishy” about a call he received last week.
He answered the phone and heard some kind of recording, and jotted down the return number. Diligently, he called them back and gave him his name. The person on the other end of the phone claimed to be with the Canada Revenue Agency, and he had some really bad news.
The 86-year-old had a warrant out for his arrest, for tax evasion.
“I’ve never stolen an apple in my life!” Schott said, thinking back to the strange phone conversation. He laughed at the man and demanded more information, but none was forthcoming and the line clicked off.
He’d been hung up on.
“I knew there was something fishy going on,” he said, and he headed off to the police station. But it kept playing on his mind. His accountant had always assured him he was filing correctly. As a pensioner, he doesn’t have much in the way of income. His wife died 16 years ago, and he’s never broken the law.
“They were suggesting I was cheating on my taxes,” he said, still in disbelief. At the RCMP Chilliwack detachment, they explained to him that this was a common phone fraud, and that they’d recieved dozens of complaint calls recently from others.
Schott wants others to know that these types of frauds exist, to save them the trouble of dealing with these calls.
“It takes a lot out of person,” Schott said on Thursday, still visibly upset about the matter.
While people can be charged with tax evasion, the Canada Revenue Agency warns that phone calls like these are just one of the many way fraudsters attempt to fool people into sending money.
“Taxpayers should be vigilant when they receive, either by telephone, mail, text message or email, a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number,” their website states.
And indeed “cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA,” they warn. “These are scams and taxpayers should never respond to these fraudulent communications or click on any of the links provided.”
Scammers could seem more benign as well. They could insist that the personal information is needed to process a refund or benefit payment.
There are important steps to take to protect yourself from fraud, including recognizing scams and how the CRA works.
Anyone who feels they’ve been a victim, or has recieved deceptive telemarketing, should call 1-888-495-8501 or visit the CRA fraud website. And if you suspect you may be the victim of fraud or have been tricked into giving personal or financial information, contact local RCMP at 604-792-4611.