Protect yourself against fraud

Video: Beware of scammers posing as CRA employees

Examples of fraudulent communications

Know how to recognize a scam

There are many fraud types, including new ones invented daily.

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.

These scams may insist that this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or a benefit payment. Cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA. 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.

To identify legitimate communications from the CRA, be aware of these guidelines and know what to expect when the CRA contacts you.

By phone

The CRA may

  • verify your identity by asking for personal information such as your full name, date of birth, address and account, or social insurance number
  • ask for details about your account, in the case of a business enquiry
  • call you to begin an audit process

The CRA will never

  • ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver's license
  • demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
  • use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the police
  • leave voicemails that are threatening or give personal or financial information

By email

The CRA may

  • notify you by email when a new message or a document, such as a notice of assessment or reassessment, is available for you to view in secure CRA portals such as My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client
  • email you a link to a CRA webpage, form, or publication that you ask for during a telephone call or a meeting with an agent (this is the only case where the CRA will send an email containing links)

The CRA will never

  • give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link
  • email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details
  • send you an email with a link to your refund
  • demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
  • threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence

By mail

The CRA may

  • ask for financial information such as the name of your bank and its location
  • send you a notice of assessment or reassessment
  • ask you to pay an amount you owe through any of the CRA's payment options
  • take legal action to recover the money you owe, if you refuse to pay your debt
  • write to you to begin an audit process

The CRA will never

  • set up a meeting with you in a public place to take a payment
  • demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
  • threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence

By text messages/instant messaging

The CRA never uses text messages or instant messaging such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate with taxpayers under any circumstance. If a taxpayer receives text or instant messages claiming to be from the CRA, they are scams!

When in doubt, ask yourself

  • Why is the caller pressuring me to act immediately? Am I certain the caller is a CRA employee?
  • Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received a notice of assessment or reassessment saying I owe tax?
  • Have I received written communication from the CRA by email or mail about the subject of the call?
  • Does the CRA have my most recent contact information, such as my email and address?
  • Is the caller asking for information I would not give in my tax return or that is not related to the money I owe the CRA?
  • Did I recently send a request to change my business number information?
  • Do I have an instalment payment due soon?
  • Have I received a statement of account about a government program I owe money to, such as employment insurance or Canada Student Loans?

If you do have a debt with the CRA and can't pay in full, take action right away. For more information, go to When you owe money – collections at the CRA.

How to protect yourself from identity theft

  • Never provide personal information through the Internet or by email. The CRA does not ask you to provide personal information by email.
  • Be suspicious if you are ever asked to pay taxes or fees to the CRA on lottery or sweepstakes winnings. You do not have to pay taxes or fees on these types of winnings. These requests are scams.
  • Keep your access codes, user ID, passwords, and PINs secret.
  • Keep your address current with all government departments and agencies.
  • Choose your tax preparer carefully! Make sure you choose someone you trust and check their references. Always review your return, agree with the content before filing, and follow up to make sure you receive your notice of assessment, since it contains important financial and personal information that belongs to you.
  • Before supporting any charity, use the CRA website to find out if the charity is registered and get more information on the way it does business.
  • Be careful before you click on links in any email you receive. Some criminals may be using a technique known as phishing to steal your personal information when you click on the link.
  • Caller ID is a useful function. However, the information displayed can be altered by criminals. Never use only the displayed information to confirm the identity of the caller whether it be an individual, a company or a government entity.
  • Protect your social insurance number. Don't use it as a piece of ID and never reveal it to anyone unless you are certain the person asking for it is legally entitled to that information. If an organization asks for your social insurance number, ask if it is legally required to collect it, and if not, offer other forms of ID.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycle and ask about any missing account statements or suspicious transactions.
  • Shred unwanted documents or store them in a secure place. Make sure that documents with your name and SIN are secure.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen credit or debit cards.
  • Carry only the ID you need.
  • Do not write down any passwords or carry them with you.
  • Ask a trusted neighbour to pick up your mail when you are away or ask that a hold be placed on delivery.

Have you been a victim?

You should report deceptive telemarketing to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

If you suspect you may be the victim of fraud or have been tricked into giving personal or financial information, contact your local police service.

If the CRA has confirmed that a taxpayer's information has been compromised, the Agency will act to prevent the fraudulent use of the information involving systems and processes for which the CRA is responsible.

If your social insurance number (SIN) has been stolen, you should contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218. For more information, see Social Insurance Number (Service Canada website).

You can ask the CRA to disable online access to your information on the CRA login services by contacting us. After access to your information is disabled, you may change your mind and want access again. If so, you can contact us and ask that your access be re-activated.

If you think your CRA user ID or the password you use in personal dealings with the CRA has been compromised, contact us.

Scam stories

  • Select the image below to read their story

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    Image description

    Meet Mary & William
    Mary and William are a married couple with kids. They have fallen victim to a donation tax shelter scheme.
    Find out more about Mary and William's story and how you can protect yourself against fraud.

  • Select the image below to read her story

    Image described below
    Image description

    Meet Amy
    Amy is a young professional. She has fallen victim to a telephone phishing scam.
    Find out more about Amy's story and how you can protect yourself against fraud.

  • Select the image below to read her story

    Image described below
    Image description

    Meet Irene
    Irene is 80 years old. She has fallen victim to an e-mail phishing scam.
    Find out more about Irene's story and how you can protect yourself against fraud.

External resources

Print-ready posters and handout for service providers

Print-ready posters

Select a poster below to get the printable PDF version:

  • Email poster

    Image described below
    Poster description

    Don’t get scammed!

    Emails from the Canada Revenue Agency will:

    • Never ask for financial information
    • Never provide financial information
    • Never contain spelling errors

    For more information, go to canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention

  • Phone poster

    Image described below
    Poster description

    Don’t get scammed!

    The Canada Revenue Agency will never:

    • Use aggressive language or tone
    • Ask for prepaid credit cards
    • Threaten arrest or send police

    For more information, go to canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention

  • Prepaid credit card poster

    Image described below
    Poster description

    Don’t get scammed!

    The Canada Revenue Agency never accepts payments by prepaid credit card. Accepted payment methods are:

    • Online banking
    • Debit card
    • Pre-authorized debit

    For more information, go to canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention

  • Caller ID spoofing poster

    Image described below
    Poster description

    Don’t get scammed!

    Scammers can fake their caller ID

    • Confirm the caller’s identity
    • Confirm status of your account online
    • When in doubt, hang up!

    For more information, go to canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention

Handout

When the CRA contacts you, it makes sure your personal information is protected. The handout explains what the CRA will and will not do when making contact with taxpayers.

Don’t get scammed! (HTML)
Don’t get scammed! (PDF, 89 KB)

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