Slam the scam – Protect yourself against fraud

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Examples of fraudulent communications

Know how to recognize a scam

There are many types of scams and frauds, and new ones are invented daily.

As a taxpayer, you should be cautious if you receive any communication that claims to be from the CRA and requests personal information such as a social insurance number (SIN), credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.

Scams may insist that personal information is needed so that you can receive a refund or a benefit payment. Cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare you into paying a false debt to the CRA. Other communications could direct you to visit a fake CRA website where you are asked to verify your identity by entering personal information.

If you are unsure and want to confirm if the CRA contacted you, call the CRA:

In the provinces

Individuals: 1-800-959-8281

Businesses: 1-800-959-5525

In the territories

Individuals: 1-866-426-1527

Businesses: 1-866-841-1876 

What to expect when the CRA contacts you

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

By phone

When you call the CRA, you may

  • be asked to verify your identity by giving your full name, date of birth, address, type of account, or social insurance number
  • be asked for details about your file in My Account or My Business Account

The CRA may contact you to:

  • ask about a tax debt
  • start an audit process
  • offer free tax help for your small business
  • offer support in helping your clients access benefits and credits

The CRA will not:

  • demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
  • ask for a fee to speak with a contact centre agent
  • 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. To confirm if an email notification you received is legitimate, see email notifications you will receive
  • email you a link to a CRA web page, form, or publication that you ask for during a phone call or a meeting with a CRA agent (this is the only case where the CRA will send an email containing links)
  • email you a consent form to meet with someone from the CRA via videoconference. You will only receive the form after you’ve agreed to provide your email address
  • email you about child and family benefits and the CRA’s online services, such as My Account (you will only receive these emails if you’ve subscribed to a mailing list)

The CRA will not

  • give or ask for personal or financial information by email or ask you to click on a link
  • email you a link that demands you 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 using any of the CRA's payment options
  • take legal action to recover the money you owe
  • write to you to initiate an audit process
  • write to you to offer free tax help for your small business

The CRA will not

  • 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 has introduced multi-factor authentication for all of its sign-in services. If you enrolled with the telephone option, you will receive a text message with a one-time passcode each time you sign in to your CRA account.

CRA employees will not use text messages or instant messaging such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to start a conversation with you about your taxes, benefits, or My Account under any circumstance.

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 postal 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 the Employment Insurance Program or the Canada Student Loans Program?

If you know you 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.

CRA scam alerts

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is regularly made aware of scams impersonating the CRA. Stay up-to-date with the CRA’s scam alert to help avoid scams that may target you.

For details: CRA scam alerts

How to avoid identity theft and scams

  • 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 tax or fees to the CRA on lottery or sweepstakes winnings. You do not have to pay tax or fees on these types of winnings. These requests are scams.
  • Keep your access codes, user IDs, passwords, and PINs secret and use a unique password for each account.
  • 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.
  • Monitor your tax accounts by registering for My Account or My Business Account. Once registered, sign up for email notifications (account alerts), which will notify you of changes made to your accounts (for example, change in address or direct-deposit information) or if paper mail from the CRA was returned.
  • Before supporting any charity, use the CRA website to find out if the charity is registered and get more information on how 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 a link.
  • Caller ID is a useful function. However, the information displayed can be altered by criminals. Never rely solely on 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 social insurance number are secure.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen credit or debit cards to your financial institution.
  • Carry only the identification 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.

Report a scam

To report a scam, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. The centre receives calls from Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 4:45 pm, Eastern time.

What to do if you were the victim of a scam or fraud

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

If your social insurance number has been stolen, call Service Canada at 1-866-274-6627. For more information, see Social Insurance Number.

You should contact the CRA if you:

  • think your CRA user ID or password has been compromised
  • find changes to your banking, address, business or personal information, which you did not request, or you find a benefit application made for you without your knowledge
  • want to disable online access to your information in CRA sign-in services
  • want to reactivate online access to your information after it has been disabled

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.

Enhanced security measures

When enhanced security measures are on your account, CRA call centre agents will ask additional security questions to determine a caller’s identity.

To ask that enhanced security measures be placed on your account, call the CRA:

In the provinces

Individuals: 1-800-959-8281

Businesses: 1-800-959-5525

In the territories

Individuals: 1-866-426-1527

Businesses: 1-866-841-1876

If your account was compromised and you cannot meet your tax obligations, you may be eligible for taxpayer relief from any resulting interest and penalties. To send a request for relief, please complete Form RC4288, Request for Taxpayer Relief – Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest.

Scam stories

  • Select the image below to read their story

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    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

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    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

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    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.

  • Select the image below to read his story

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    Image description

    Meet Samuel
    Samuel is 75 years old. He has fallen victim to a sweepstakes scam.
    Find out more about Samuel’s story and how to protect yourself from fraud.

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