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McAfee Canada Alert: Beware of Tax Scams!

Canada Revenue Agency's image: Tax Fraud

Canada Revenue Agency’s image: Tax Fraud

This video presents “Canada’s new weapon against identity theft”:

  • Jun 28, 2012: The new Identity Theft Support Centre opened to help Canadians protect themselves from fraud
  • Shirlee Engel reported as follows

Here is an advisory from McAfee Canada for Canadians preparing to file their taxes:

ADVISORY

McAfee Canada Warns Canadians of Tax Scams

Tax season is in full bloom, and McAfee Canada would like to issue a word of caution to Canadians preparing to file their taxes.

Last year, identity fraud cost Canadians $15,981,763.45[i][i]. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is expecting more than 25.4 million[ii][ii] people to submit their tax returns by April 30, 2013. Almost two-thirds of Canadians now file their returns online[iii][iii] and the CRA is encouraging more people to follow suit. This is definitely a favourite time of year for cybercriminals.

Tax season is an incredible opportunity for private information to be compromised. Filing online is fast, accurate, and convenient, and users can expect their refunds to be deposited directly into their accounts in as little as eight business days. If users are irresponsible with their online security, cybercriminals can easily obtain a lot of unprotected and confidential information they can use to access or open bank accounts, transfer balances, apply for loans, credit cards and others goods and services, make purchases, obtain passports, and receive government benefits.

There are a number of things that users can do to protect their information, such as keeping their access codes private, not using public computers and networks to e-file, choosing their tax preparers carefully, and never sending their confidential information by email. What it all comes down to is for users to be diligent and aware, taking the necessary precautions to safeguard their identities and the identities of their loved ones.

[i][i] Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Criminal Intelligence Analytical Unit: “Monthly Summary Report.” January, 2012. http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/english/documents/Annual%202012%20CAFC.pdf

[ii][ii] Canada Revenue Agency.

[iii][iii] Ibid.

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Since March is Fraud Prevention Month across Canada and around the world, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reminds Canadians to:

  • Remember that the CRA will not send information about your personal refunds or benefit payments by email, will not ask for personal information by email, will not leave any personal information on an answering machine, and will not divulge taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer
    • Canadians who receive an email or a phone call of this nature should not respond to it and should call the CRA right away

  • Beware of the following phishing schemes and tax scams:
    • Phishing schemes

      • Beware of telephone calls, mail, or email that claim to be from the CRA but are not

        • There are examples of a fraudulent letter, emails, and online refund forms on the CRA’s Web site

        • As per telephone calls:
          • The CRA will occasionally leave messages for taxpayers on their answering machines

          • In these cases, a callback number will be provided along with a request to have the taxpayer’s SIN available upon callback

          • However, it is important to note that not all telephone messages purporting to be from the CRA are genuine

            • Should taxpayers wish to verify the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, they should contact the CRA directly by using the numbers on CRA’s Telephone numbers page

            • For business-related calls, contact 1-800-959-5525 and for individual concerns, contact 1-800-959-8281

      • These are phishing scams that could result in identity thefts

        • Beware of phishing scams asking for your personal information, such as a social insurance, credit card, bank account, and passport numbers

        • Some of these scams ask for this personal information directly, and others refer the taxpayer to a Web site resembling the CRA’s where the person is asked to verify their identity by entering personal information

    • Email scams may also contain embedded malware, or malicious software, that can harm your computer and put your personal information at risk of compromise

    •  Tax scams:

      • Some individuals are selling tax scams that have serious legal consequences

        • No matter how tempting it might be to believe that you don’t have to pay any taxes, Canadians are urged to remember the old adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
      • An email scam that has been recently circulating notifies taxpayers that a complaint has been filed against them due to their involvement in a tax evasion scheme and requests the taxpayer provide financial reports for verification

        • This email is not from the CRA
      • Another common scheme informs taxpayers that their tax assessment has been verified and they are eligible to receive a tax refund

      • The  Canada Revenue Agency also warns Canadian taxpayers of the following mail scam:

        • Some Canadians are receiving a letter fraudulently identified as coming from the CRA and asking for personal information

          • The letter is not from the CRA

          • A PDF version of the letter is available on the CRA Web site at www.cra.gc.ca/alert

        • The letter claims that there is “insufficient information” for the individual’s tax return and that in order to receive any “claims,” they will have to update their records

        • The letter attaches a form specifically requesting the individual’s personal information in writing, via fax or email, including information on bank accounts and passports

          • This letter is not from the CRA and Canadians should not provide their personal information to the sender

        • The CRA has notified the proper law enforcement authorities of this scam

All taxpayers should be vigilant when divulging any confidential information to third parties.

For more information about security of taxpayer information and examples of fraudulent communications, please go to www.cra.gc.ca/security.

Anyone who receives a suspicious communication should immediately report it to info@antifraudcentre.ca or to the institution that it appears to be from.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, the CRA urges you to notify your financial institution and the local police.

For information on scams, to report deceptive telemarketing, and if personal or financial information has been unwittingly provided, go to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Web page at: www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/phishing-eng.htm.

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