Realistic CRA scam hits Ontario


Published March 2, 2024 at 3:54 pm

Canada Anti Fraud Centre, warning of latest scam amidst tax season from fraudsters pretending to be the CRA using victim's real SIN

With tax season here, residents in Mississauga, Brampton, Halton, Hamilton and beyond are facing another wave of scams.

In their latest schemes, fraudsters lure victims by providing accurate personal information, fostering a false sense of trust that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is contacting them.

The warning comes after the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), a trusted source for detecting scams, reported an uptick in text messages impersonating the CRA.

“The message includes the victim’s full name and Social Insurance Number (SIN) and asks that a payment be sent to a phone number,” the company noted on their website.

This is an example of a “smishing” tactic where scammers will try to get personal information like your bank accounts and passwords to steal money or commit other fraud.

According to the CAFC, in most phishing schemes scammers will pretend to be well-known businesses raising concerns about service issues between the client and the company.

A variation of smishing scams involves short messages asking recipients to click on links or download attachments. These messages may appear as receipts for recent purchases, delivery notifications, or urgent notices. Clicking on the link or attachment can result in the recipient’s computer becoming infected with a virus or malware.

“Remember that the Canada Revenue Agency will never ask for a payment via text message,” the CAFC says.

Additionally, Peel Regional Police are advising residents to exercise increased caution regarding such scams, especially as Fraud Prevention Month begins this month  across Canada.

This annual campaign aims to assist individuals in identifying, refusing, and reporting fraudulent activities.

“This year’s attacks are more convincing than ever; the communications are more realistic and appear legitimate, using Government of Canada logos. The fraudsters hope you click on the link that directs you to their web page, where they steal your personal information, such as passwords and social insurance numbers,” Peel police said.

The Canadian government, on its website, offers safety precautions to residents to protect themselves and their devices against smishing scams:

  • If uncertain about the authenticity of a text, verify with the sender using an alternative method such as the phone number listed on the business’ official website.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or responding to questionable texts. Instead, manually type the web address into a browser when possible.
  • If you suspect a smishing attempt, delete the message and block the number. Refrain from responding, even if the text instructs you to text “STOP” or “NO” to halt messages. Responding may confirm to the spammer that your phone number is active, leading to more smishing attempts.
  • Forward any spam text messages to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This action notifies your phone provider, allowing them to block future texts from that specific number.
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