Webinar - Be scam smart

Please note: The content of this presentation is accurate as of the date it was aired, on October 19, 2022. For the most recent information on these topics, go to Scams and fraud - Canada.ca.


Be Scam Smart

Cayla: Welcome and thank you for joining us for a presentation by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on scams.

Scammers target persons from all walks of life. No one is immune.

Today’s presentation will help you recognize the many types of scams and learn what to do if you are a victim of a scam.

My name is Cayla and I’ll be your host for this session.

[An individual is looking at their cellphone with a puzzled look.]

Land Acknowledgement

Cayla: I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are in Treaty 1 territory and that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

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

We can all fall victim to a scam

Cayla: Let’s start with a quick poll.

How many Canadians a day were victims of scams in 2021?

  1. 1
  2. 10
  3. 100
  4. 125

We can all fall victim to a scam

Cayla: The correct answer is C. 100.

Last year, about 100 Canadians were victims of scams everyday! So, as you see, it can happen to anyone.


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

We will share some examples and go through a real life situation.

We will go over what to expect if the CRA actually does contacts you.

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 to conclude, we will provide you with some helpful resources.

Recognizing a scam

Cayla: You should always be cautious if you receive communication that claims to be from the CRA.

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

In particular, be wary of requests that ask for personal information such as your social insurance (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 ID if you're speaking to an agent and you know they are from the CRA, but be cautious otherwise.

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

Cayla: When necessary, 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.

A cellphone showing an incoming call from “Government of Canada”. Text beside the phone reads “Is this the CRA calling?”]

The CRA will not ask for your:

Cayla: Scammers may ask for your credit card, bank account, or passport numbers.

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

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

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

Let’s look at a real story from a Canadian who was victim of a CRA scam.

Did the CRA really call you?

Cayla: This is the story of Amy.

Amy is a young professional beginning her career after graduating from university. One day at work, she got a call from a number that she didn’t recognize. The individual on the line identified themselves as a CRA employee, and claimed that Amy has an outstanding debt.

They explained that Amy had to confirm her personal information, including her birthdate and bank account number, to sort out the debt with a re-payment plan.

Amy did not recall owing money to the CRA or telling the CRA her work number. When she voiced these concerns, the requester became agitated, and warned Amy there would be consequences if she did not cooperate.

Although she was apprehensive, she had never personally dealt with the CRA and assumed the request was normal. She reluctantly agreed to provide the information.

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

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

Examples of why the CRA may call you

Cayla: As I mentioned earlier, the CRA may sometimes 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.

The CRA will not demand immediate payments with gift cards, pre-paid credit cards, or bitcoin.

The CRA won’t say the police are coming or threaten a prison sentence or deportation.

Listen to your voice of reason before you act!

Cayla: When you are not sure if it is the CRA contacting you, ask yourself these questions:

Listen to your voice of reason before you act.

Still unsure? It’s ok! You can call the CRA to check and see if they’ve been trying to reach you.

Verify that the CRA is contacting you

Cayla: If you want to confirm that the individual calling works for the CRA or that the CRA is contacting you, 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.

We can all fall victim to a scam

Cayla: Let’s do another quick poll.

How much money did Canadians lose to fraud and scams from January 1 to July 31, 2022?

  1. $48.2 million
  2. $66.7 million
  3. $88.5 million
  4. $284.7 million

We can all fall victim to a scam

Cayla: The answer is, D. $284.7 million.

This is how much money Canadians lost to fraud between January and July 2022.

Thousands of Canadians lose millions of dollars to fraudsters every year. The effect of fraud on families and businesses can be devastating.

Did we really text or email you?

Cayla: You may think that 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 to view in one of the CRA’s secure portals. These portals include My Account, My Business Account, or 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 tell you only 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 that we will never ask you to send personal information to us by email.

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

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

Cayla: 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.

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

This type of scam is known as phishing.

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

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

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

[A picture of a fraudulent email offering a payment from the CRA. The text on the fraudulent email message includes an Interac e-transfer reminder indicating that the recipient received $458.00 from the CRA, and an expiry date.]

Example of a fraudulent text or instant message offering a refund

Cayla: Phishing scams can also be in the form of text messages.

Scammers send a message from a fake number to your phone or tablet.

They will claim to be from the CRA and offer a refund by clicking on a link provided in their message.

As in the previous slide, they may ask you to provide:

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

The CRA will not use text messages or instant messages to start a conversation with you about your tax file.

[A picture of a fraudulent text message indicating that the recipient received $493 from the Canada Revenue Agency for their taxes. A link is provided and the message directs the recipient to fill an online form.]

Did you receive mail from the CRA?

Cayla: 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 get mail about your taxes, such as a notice of assessment.

Or, we may contact you if we are reviewing your income tax and benefit return or sending you a legal warning letter about an outstanding debt.

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 message.

Be scam smart!

Cayla: Here’s how you can 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

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

Register for CRA My Account. This makes it easy to track official communications from the CRA and to keep your information up-to-date.

Change your user IDs, passwords, and security questions and answers, regularly.

Set up a personal identification number, also know as a PIN, in your CRA My Account or with the help of one of our call centre agents. A PIN will help confirm your identity when you call the CRA.

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

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.

Has your CRA account been compromised?

Cayla: Here is some information to help protect your My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client Account.

Be sure to regularly monitor your online accounts for suspicious activity. This can include unwanted changes to your banking, address, business or personal information, or benefit applications made on your behalf. Sign up for email notifications to monitor changes in your CRA accounts.

If your account has been compromised, an unauthorized individual may have accessed your online CRA account. Contact the CRA so our agents can take appropriate action on your account.

If the CRA confirms that your information was compromised, we will act to prevent any fraudulent use of the information that involves our systems and processes.

Make sure to ask the CRA to put enhanced security measures on your account. With these, the CRA’s call centre agents will ask additional security questions to verify your identity in the future.

For more information, go to web address on your screen.

What to do if you are a victim of a scam

Cayla: If you suspect that you lost money to a scam or fraud or were tricked into giving personal or financial information, contact your local police service as soon as possible.

If your social insurance number was lost or stolen, call Service Canada at the number shown on your screen.

Call the CRA,

Note that you can select the option “report suspected fraud or identity theft” to prioritize your call and speak to a specialized agent as quickly as possible.

Lasty, you may also want to contact your financial institution and credit bureaus. The credit bureaus can put a fraud alert on your account, which will alert lenders and creditors of potential fraud.

Call Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada.

Report a scam!

Cayla: If you or a family member have been contacted by a scammer, report it the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at antifraudcentre.ca, or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

We can all fall victim to a scam

Cayla: It’s almost time to wrap up, but before we do, let’s take our last poll.

How many cases of fraud were reported in Canada from January 1 to July 31, 2022?

  1. 28,734
  2. 52,735
  3. 67,916
  4. 106,974

We can all fall victim to a scam

Cayla: The correct answer is, B. 52,735.

This is how many cases of fraud that Canadians reported from January to July 2022.

Protect yourself by seeking out more information

Cayla: The CRA web page canada.ca/be-scam-smart provides more information on scams, including links to:

Thank you

Cayla: This is the end of our webinar. Thank you so much for joining us today. We hope it was helpful!

Thank you for listening and enjoy your day!

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