The taxman doesn’t use email.
That’s the first and biggest tip-off that what looks like an authentic message from Canada Revenue Agency is in fact a scam.
Ellen Valks of H&R Block in Nelson says she encountered such an email this week when a former RCMP officer brought it in.
“We were doing his tax return, and he asked if we’d seen it before,” she says. “I think we have seen one other. The email is in colour, has a Canadian flag in the corner, and Canada Revenue Agency on it. It looks really legitimate.”
The scammers tell the recipient they’ve been awarded a refund — “and it’s a small enough amount that you think hey, maybe I made a mistake.”
However, the email requests one bit of information first: your bank account number.
Don’t fall for it, Valks says. For security reasons, Canada Revenue Agency never requests personal information from taxpayers by email.
Communications manager Maria Bender says a lot of scams circulate around tax time, some more plausible than others.
“The main question people should ask themselves if they’re getting something like that is are you actually expecting a refund? You also have to ask how did they get your email address? That’s not something we would ask for.”
Bender says they have examples of similar fraudulent emails on their website (cra-arc.gc.ca), along with other tips on keeping your information safe.
She recommends anyone who receives — or responds to — such a message report it to the RCMP’s anti-fraud centre.