The Monday, May 1 deadline to file taxes is fast approaching.
Canadians who have already dealt with all of their paperwork are in the clear until next year and can, weather permitting of course, kick back and relax on the deck with a wobbly pop.
But those who have yet to file might find themselves scrambling to finish up in time.
If you’re among the latter, be sure not to let any potential last-minute pressure compromise your confidential information ó a momentary lapse in judgment could result in a massive identity theft migraine.
“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,” the agency outlines on its website, www.cra-arc.gc.ca.
Con artists typically will insist such information is required for the target to receive a refund or benefit payment. Some, however, have evolved to use threats or coercion to intimidate a victim into paying for a fictitious debt to the revenue agency.
“Other communications urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA website where the taxpayer is then asked to verify their identity by entering personal information. These are scams and taxpayers should never respond to these fraudulent communications or click on any of the links provided,” the government agency says.
Some scams might seem legitimate, but there are generally clear indications that they are in fact fraudulent.
Anyone who receives a phone call declaring, for example, that he or she owes money to the revenue agency can simply hang up and verify by calling 1-800-959-8281 and following the prompts. Businesses might also be targeted by scams, and owners can call 1-800-959-5525. Additionally, anyone who has created an online account can log in to double check.
The agency says it will not send any emails with a link asking you to divulge personal or financial information. The only exception is for people who call the agency to request a form or a link for specific information, in which case an agent will forward the information being requested to the specified email during the telephone call.
“This is the only circumstance in which the CRA will send an email containing links,” the agency’s website says.
Additionally, anyone who has signed up for online mail will receive the following from the agency: a registration confirmation email to the address you provided for online mail service for an individual or a business; and an email to the address you provided to notify you when new online mail is available to view in the CRA’s secure online services portal.
Don’t ignore your intuition ó if a call, text message, letter or email leaves you with any nagging doubts about its legitimacy, just take a few moments to call the agency yourself to double check.