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CRA calls. Legitimate, or a scam?

Updated: May 4, 2022

I don’t know about you, but trying to figure out whether a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), is often confusing to me. They sound so real and often have enough information about me that makes me feel they are legitimate. And, let’s face it, getting a call from someone claiming to be from CRA can make your heart race a little. The scammers rely on this reaction and will use it as a tool to get what they want; your money.

So, how do we know when it is a legitimate call from CRA, or any other government agency for that matter?

In an article I read by Craig Wong of the Canadian Press (June 10, 2021), Cherolle Prince, a financial crimes expert encourages us to “Ask the right questions.” Remember, you have just as much right to ask questions of the caller as they claim to have in asking you for your personal information.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does this call make sense?

  2. Why would CRA need that information?

  3. Have I provided that information to them already?

  4. What would they be doing with that information?

  5. Why do they need this information now?

Cherolle Prince states that “A red flag may be if the caller is asking for information over the phone that the CRA should have already.” For example, when they call you, are they asking for your Social Insurance Number? If so, they are not CRA. CRA does not ask for this information if they are calling you. They only require it if YOU are calling them, and they are verifying your identify before disclosing information to you.

Suggested practice:

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from CRA, ask them for their name, which CRA office they are calling from and their phone number. If they decline to provide this information or hesitate to do so, hang up, they are not from CRA. If they do provide you with their name and office location and even a telephone number; hang up and then use the CRA general inquiry number (1 (800) 387-1193) DO NOT use the phone number they provided for you.

A few things to remember:

  • Communication with CRA is primarily through regular mail and unless you have requested they do so, will rarely send you an email or call you.

  • CRA will never demand immediate payment in any type of monetary payments such as Gift Cards or Bitcoin. CRA will work with you to make payment arrangements which will not begin immediately.

  • Scammers have technology that can mimic the number of CRA, so you may not want to trust the caller ID number on your display.

  • When in doubt – BE SAFE. Do not give out your personal information to the caller. They don’t need it, they should already have it.

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