Realistic CRA scam targets Ontario residents ahead of tax season


Published March 17, 2024 at 10:23 am

CRA, realistic, scam, ontario, tax return

Residents preparing to file their annual taxes or those who have already done so should exercise caution, as scammers are striking again with an elaborate CRA scheme.

The text message starts with a “CRA account number” informing the recipient of a $284.39 deposit for their 2023-2024 tax return sent by the CRA.

The recipient is then given a deadline of three days to claim their funds.

The message ends with a link where the recipient is asked to visit, to retrieve their money.

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 Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), a trusted source for detecting scams, in most phishing schemes scammers pretend to be well-known businesses raising concerns about service issues between the client and the company.

“The message may claim that you need to update your account or that your tax refund is ready. Whatever the message is, it’s an attempt to trick you into providing your personal or financial information,” the CAFC says.

elaborate CRA scam hits Ontario

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

Additionally, Peel Regional Police are advising residents to exercise increased caution regarding such scams, especially as Fraud Prevention Month has already started 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 you are uncertain about the authenticity of a text, verify with the sender using an alternative method, such as the phone number listed on the business’s official website.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or responding to questionable texts. Instead, when possible, manually type the web address into a browser.
  • 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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