Webinar - Be scam smart

Please note: The content of this presentation is accurate as of the date it was aired, on October 11, 2023. For the most recent information on these topics, go to Scams and fraud - Canada.ca.


Be Scam Smart

Melanie: Hello, and welcome.

My name is Melanie. I’m with the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA for short.

Today I will be talking to you about scams. You’ll learn how to recognize them, the simple steps you can take to protect yourself, and what to do if you become a victim.

[An adult looking at their cellular phone.]

Land Acknowledgement

Melanie: Before we get started, I would like to respectfully acknowledge the territory in which we gather, as the ancestral unceded homelands of the Beothuk and the island of Newfoundland as the ancestral unceded homelands of the Mi’kmaq and Beothuk.

Given that we are meeting virtually, I also want to acknowledge the lands on which you are gathered from and invite you to take a moment of silence to have a thought for the territory in which you find yourself.

[Indigenous symbols of an eagle, whale, instrument, leaf, boat, and infinity shape.]


Melanie: Today’s webinar will help you recognize the different types of CRA-related scams.

We will talk about what to expect if the CRA contacts you, how the CRA protects your information, and how you can protect your CRA account.

We will talk about what to do if you suspect that you’ve become a victim of a scam and how to report a scam or fraud.

And finally, we will provide you resources on where you can get more information on how to be scam smart.

Recognizing a scam

Melanie: Did you get a suspicious email, phone call, letter, or text message from someone claiming to be the CRA?

Many scams attempt to imitate government services to gain access to your personal and financial information.

You should always be cautious if you receive communication that claims to be from the CRA. In particular, be wary of requests that ask for personal information such as your social insurance number (or SIN) or your, credit card, bank account, or passport numbers.

Please note that the CRA may legitimately ask for your SIN to verify your identity. Be cautious unless you know you're speaking to an agent from the CRA.

We will give you some guidelines for identifying legitimate communications from the CRA, so you know what to expect if we contact you

[Text on top of an individual's head reads, "Listen to your voice of reason before you act".}

Did the CRA really contact you?

Melanie: There are reasons the CRA may need to contact you.

But scammers often attempt to imitate the CRA to try to steal your personal information. They may target you by telephone, text, instant messaging, email, or mail.

You may receive communications that tell you to visit a fake CRA website where you are asked to verify your identity by entering personal information.

They may insist that your personal information is needed to receive a refund or a benefit payment.

These are scams and you should never respond to these fraudulent communications or click on any of the links provided.

When necessary, the CRA may need to contact you. Over the next few slides, we will go over what you need to know when the CRA contacts you, what we may or won’t ask, plus we will show you some examples of current CRA scams.

[A cellphone showing an incoming call from "Government of Canada". Text beside the phone reads, "Is this the CRA calling?"}

Reasons the CRA may contact you

Melanie: It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to scammers.

As I mentioned earlier, the CRA may need to call you. Here are some examples:

When the CRA calls, they may verify your identity. They might ask for personal information such as your full name, date of birth, address and account, or social insurance number.

[An individual on the phone stirs their coffee with a surprised look on their face. Text beside the individual reads, "Is it the CRA?"]

Listen to your voice of reason before you act!

Melanie: Not sure the CRA is contacting you? Ask yourself these questions.

Why is the caller pressuring me to act now, using aggressive language, or is threatening arrest?

Listen to your voice of reason before you act.

For more tips and helpful information, visit canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention.

Confirm the caller is from the CRA

Melanie: Make sure the caller is a CRA employee before providing any information over the phone. This will protect you from giving money or personal information to a scammer.

If you’re suspicious, this is how you can make sure the caller is from the CRA:

Once you complete these three steps, call the CRA employee back to discuss the reason for their call.

Verify the CRA is contacting you

Melanie: To confirm if the individual calling works for the CRA or that the CRA is contacting you, you can call the individuals enquiries line at 1‑800‑959-8281, resident of the territories with an (867) area code, should call the northern dedicated line at 1-866-426-1527.

For businesses, call the business enquiries line at 1-800-959-5525, if you are calling with an (867) area code, call the northern dedicated business line at 1-866-841-1876.

The CRA offers an automated callback service on the following numbers: Individuals: 1-800-959-8281, and Businesses: 1-800-959-5525.

When wait times reach a certain threshold, you will be given the option of receiving a callback. If you choose this option, you will get a four-digit confirmation number. When the call centre agent calls you back, the number will be repeated back to you. This is to provide assurance that the call is from a legitimate CRA employee.

Note: If we are unable to reach you after two attempts, your callback will be cancelled.

Did we really text or email you?

Melanie: You may think you received a text message or email from the CRA. But did you really?

There may be times when the CRA uses email to notify you when a new message or a document is available for you in one of the CRA’s secure portals. These portals include My Account, My Business Account, and Represent a Client.

For example, you will get an email when your notice of assessment or reassessment is available. Or, you may have subscribed to receive an email notification about an upcoming benefit payment. The email will only tell you that online mail is waiting for you on the portal. The email will not include any account information, and it will not provide a link to the portal.

Note: We will never ask you to send us personal information by email.

However, during a telephone call if you request a link to a CRA web page, form, or publication, we may email it to you. The CRA will not under any circumstance use instant messaging such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate with you about tax-related issues.

Please keep in mind, the CRA uses 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.

I will now go over a few examples of fraudulent communications that are targeting taxpayers.

[An individual looks at their laptop in disbelief. Text beside the individual reads, "Is it the CRA?"]

Example of a fraudulent email message offering a payment

Melanie: Here is an example of a scam sent by email.

Scammers use an email message from a fake CRA email address.

The email states that the CRA owes you a refund and asks you to click on the link provided. The link may lead to a fake webpage that looks similar to the CRA’s.

If you click on the link, you will be asked to provide:

We will never send or request any kind of e-transfers. We will only send you payments by direct deposit or cheque in the mail.

If you receive an e-transfer claiming to be from the CRA, it’s a scam!

Do not reply to the email message or send any personal information.

[Image of a fraudulent email message.]

Example of a fraudulent text or instant message offering a refund

Melanie: Here is an example of a text message claiming to be from the CRA. It asks you to claim your refund by clicking on the link provided.

Do not reply to the text message or send them any personal information.

[Image of a fraudulent text message.]

Did you receive mail from the CRA?

Melanie: It’s important to beware of mail that looks like it’s from the Government of Canada.

Scammers may send fake mail that asks for personal and financial information.

The letters can be very convincing.

Some signs that the letter is fraudulent are:

Before you act, confirm if the letter is official by calling the CRA or signing into My Account to verify if a letter was issued.

In some cases, we may legitimately send you mail.

For example, you may receive mail about your taxes, such as a notice of assessment or reassessment, a legal warning letter about an outstanding debt, or a notification that we are reviewing your income tax and benefit return.

We may also contact you to request financial information such as the name of your bank and its location or to request a payment for any amount you owe and for you to pay through any of the CRA’s payment options.

If you're registered for electronic notifications, the CRA will send you an email to tell you that a letter is available to view in My Account. Go to canada.ca/my-cra-account and sign in to CRA’s My Account service to view your messages.

Be scam smart!

Melanie: To protect yourself from scams, it's important to know when and how the CRA might contact you.

Here’s what you can do to be scam smart:

[Text on top of an individual's head reads, "Listen to your voice of reason before you act".]

Ways to avoid tax refund and payment scams

Melanie: There are some easy ways to avoid tax refund and payment scams.

Register for CRA My Account and sign up for email notifications at canada.ca/my-account. This makes it easy to track official communications from the CRA. Email notifications from the CRA let you know when important changes are made to your account. These notifications can act as an early warning for potential fraudulent activity.

We encourage you to make a practice of regularly changing your user IDs and passwords, as well as your security questions and answers.

We suggest you set up a personal identification number in CRA My Account or with the help of one of our call centre agents, to help confirm your identity for future calls with the CRA.

Make sure your personal and business information is up‑to‑date at all times. The CRA may need to contact you to validate certain suspicious activities on your account.

Don’t share your security code, user IDs, passwords, or social insurance number with anyone.

And, finally, never click on a link before you are sure it comes from the CRA.

What to do if you’re a victim of a scam

Melanie: If you suspect you or someone you know lost money to a scam or fraud, or were tricked into giving personal or financial information, report it!

Stay calm. Gather all information about the scam or fraud, including:

Report the incident to your local police as soon as possible and get a file number for future reference.

If your social insurance number was lost or stolen, call Service Canada at 1-866-274-6627, or visit a Service Canada centre near you.

Contact your financial institutions if there was a transfer of money.

All scams or fraud should be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca using the online reporting tool, or by calling 1-888-495-8501. This will help assist law enforcement with investigations. They can also provide advice and assistance on identity theft.

Lastly, report the fraud to both credit bureaus. The credit bureaus can put a fraud alert on your account, which will alert lenders and creditors of potential fraud. Contact Equifax Canada at 1-800-465-7166 or online at equifax.ca, and the TransUnion Canada at 1-800-663-9980 or online at transunion.ca.

Has your CRA account been compromised?

Melanie: Be sure to protect your My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client Account by regularly monitoring your online accounts for suspicious activity.

This can include unwanted changes to your banking, address, business or personal information, benefit applications made on your behalf, not being able to access your account, or wanting to disable or enable online access. Sign up for email notifications to monitor changes to your CRA accounts.

Has your CRA account been compromised?

Melanie: If your account has been compromised, an unauthorized individual may have accessed your online CRA account or accounts.

Contact the CRA, using one of the following options, so our agents can take action on your account.

Call the automated phone system:

Or to speak to a live agent, call:

For Teletypewriter (TTY), call 1-800-267-7622.

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.

You can ask the CRA to put enhanced security measures on your account. With enhanced security measures, our call centre agents will ask additional security questions to verify your identity.

For more information, go to canada.ca/account-security.

Protect yourself by seeking out more information

Melanie: The CRA is regularly told about scams impersonating the CRA. Stay up-to-date with the CRA’s scam alert to help avoid scams that may target you.

Learn how you can protect yourself from scammers and be scam smart.

The CRA’s website canada.ca/be-scam-smart provides more information on scams, including links to:

Thank you!

Melanie: And that’s all for me! This is the end of our webinar. Thank you for joining us today. We hope it was helpful!

For more information on any related topics, visit our webpage at canada.ca/taxes.

We also encourage you to visit our Upcoming Events page at canada.ca/cra-outreach-events to view and register for upcoming webinars.

Thank you and enjoy your day!




Stay connected:

Twitter: @CanRevAgency

Facebook: canrevagency

YouTube: CanRevAgency

LinkedIn: cra-arc

Instagram: @canrevagency

Page details

Page details

Date modified: