CRA Is Calling...Are You Sure?
It seems everyone is receiving scam phone calls, text messages and emails these days. A consequence of the new digital environment we all live in. But what if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. What should you do?
Sometimes CRA does call with a legitimate purpose. Maybe you recently set up a new GST account or completed a transaction and CRA may try calling to get some additional information. Often a CRA phone call is a pretext to an audit or something else. What should you do to protect yourself?
The first thing to do before providing them any information about you or your business is to ask the caller to identify themselves. Request and write down their name, their phone number and their office location.
End the call and call CRA to verify the information you received from the caller. Call the main call centre at 1-800-959-8281, provide the information you received and verify with the agent. Once the caller is verified and you can be confident it is not a scam, you can call the first person back to discuss the reason for the call.
When should you be suspicious of the person calling and claiming to be from CRA?
The caller does not identify themselves and does not provide their name, phone number or office location.
The caller pressures you to act now or issues threat of arrest or law enforcement.
The caller asks you to pay with prepaid cards, gift cards, cryptocurrency or some other unusual form of payment.
The caller asks for information you would not enter on your tax return, or that is not related to money you owe CRA.
The caller recommends you apply for benefits through them.
Scammers also try to trick people into clicking on links by sending fraudulent emails and text messages. CRA never sends links to click on. Their emails will tell you to go to My Account or My Business Account to retrieve the communication that has been sent; they will not send you a link to click on.
This is all great information, however, if CRA is calling and you've verified their identity and they are asking questions that may be related to a past tax filing or you suspect the beginning of an audit, our advice is to not answer such questions and not provide them with any additional information. It is acceptable to refer their questions to us, your accountants. What you say to the agent can be used against you in a future reassessment.
Ryan Rawluk, CPA, CGA is a co-founder of Rawluk & Robert Chartered Professional Accountants Inc, a small public practice accounting firm in Winnipeg. We are always accepting new small and medium sized businesses as clients as well as personal and estate tax preparation. Please give us a call at 204-237-6053.