Canadians are being warned of scammers claiming to be the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), with fraudulent phone calls on the rise across the country.
The calls typically involve a pre-recorded message claiming that there is a criminal case against the person being called and that legal action may be taken. The person is then told to call the number back to discuss the undisclosed tax issue or face consequences.
The scammers may also demand private information be given over the phone, with some asking for payment in iTunes cards.
Law enforcement in cities such as Victoria, BC and Hamilton, Ont. report an increase in cases regarding the scam calls. Just last month, one man fell into the trap and lost $2,000 to scammers in iTunes gift cards. Others have lost even more — anywhere from $18,000 to $50,000.
Scammers have also been employing more aggressive tactics as of late. They are able to manipulate the caller ID to make it seem like it is actually the CRA or local police calling. Some may resort to 'swatting,' or making false calls to 911, as a way to threaten victims that don't cooperate.
The CRA says they will never request personal or financial information over the phone, nor will they ever threaten people with police. Canadians should know not to give out any sensitive data online or make payments on any websites if they are prompted to do so.
It is important to take all the precautions necessary, as in many cases victims will likely not get back any money that they have already sent. The phone numbers used by the scammers are often untraceable, and payments made in bitcoin or via gift cards are incredibly hard to track.
If you receive one of the CRA scam phone calls, you can call local police or report the case as 'deceptive telemarketing' to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.