There is something about the seriousness of tax season that brings out the worst kind of people. People that are trying to take advantage of our most vulnerable communities. At Packetlabs, we like to think that most of the population is savvy enough to detect and report these types of crimes and individuals right off the bat, but as our digital world grows, so do the capabilities of scammers.
There are several different types of tax scams you should be aware of:
Email phishing scams are tricky because they often seem to come from credible sources. The first red flag is that they ask you to enter personal information – the problem is that the website collecting the information is fake. These websites are often from banks, credit card companies, online retailers or government agencies. Sometimes these websites look almost identical to the legitimate ones, so it can be challenging to decipher the crime. Government agencies like the CRA do not ask for personal information by email.
Do not open links from untrusted sources.
By now, most of us have been on the receiving end of a call from the “Canadian Revenue Agency” about an apparent urgent matter regarding the state of our taxes. The purpose of these calls is to trick the victim into providing sensitive information, like credit card numbers and even social insurance numbers that could later be used for malicious activities without the owner’s consent.
While these calls may seem scary and convincing if you do receive one, know that government agencies would never contact you by phone. It is better to approach every unknown call with caution than to blindly provide personal information.
If you receive a call, step away from the call for a moment and consider the following
- Is the call from an unknown or random local phone number?
- Is there a way you could reach them later?
- Is the caller demanding information with a sense of urgency?
- Is the call threatening – for example they could tell you that you could end up in jail if you do not oblige?
Here are some other tips to protect yourself and your information, on and offline:
- Never provide personal information to untrusted sources via the internet, email or phone.
- 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.
- Keep your passwords, access codes and PINs secret and change them regularly when you can.
- Try to avoid using easily guessable passwords.
- Choose who you file your taxes with carefully. They are also the target of scammers. Always review your return carefully.
- Only contribute to registered charities. You can verify charities on the CRA website: cra.gc.ca/charities.
- Be cautious before you click on any email links from untrusted sources.
- Use caller ID but don’t rely on it. Scammers can edit this information.
- Protect your social insurance number.
- Shred unwanted documents and make sure that documents with your name and sin are secure.
- Immediately report lost or stolen credit or debit cards.
At Packetlabs, protecting your information is what we do. Contact us today to learn about the ways your online footprint might be vulnerable.