Most of us know to ignore shady-looking emails claiming to be from government organizations, banks, or online shopping outlets. However, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is warning Canadians about a fraudulent email making the rounds this tax season that bears its logo, which may fool some into believing that the communication is coming from CRA.
The practice of sending a fraudulent email claiming to be from a legitimate organization for the purposes of collecting personal information is known as “phishing”. As you can tell from the contents of your spam folder, it’s a very common practice and it has been for years. Fraudsters are getting craftier by being more meticulous about how they are putting together their emails, both to get past spam filters put in place by most modern email services and to fool the end user.
The Canada Revenue Agency already has your personal information on file and will never send an email asking for you to update it. The same holds true with most government organizations and companies that you deal with. Never trust an out of the blue request for personal information in your email inbox. When in doubt, call the organization in question to see if they sent the email and if they can get the information they need over the phone. Do not call any numbers in the suspect email, contact only phone numbers on the organization’s website.
The fake email making the rounds asks you to fill out a form asking for a tax return. Tax returns can be downloaded from the CRA’s website and there is no need to fill out a form to ask for a blank one.
If you receive a fake email, there is no need to do anything except delete the email. Just don’t click on the link in the email. If you have clicked on a link in a fraudulent email and provided personal information, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501 or firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions. To learn more about the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, visit its website.
Many of the email scams that are out there specifically target seniors, including scams from fraudsters claiming to be family members asking for money and more. The CAFC lists a number of common scams on its website. Another good way of making sure that you haven’t been the victim of identity theft is to sign up with online credit reporting tools that will allow you to check your own credit records online. These are available from the major credit reporting agencies in Canada, including Equifax and TransUnion.
Remember, if an email looks “phishy” – it probably is.