With tax season now in full swing, you’ll want to make sure your profits are not being siphoned off by scammers.

A 2013 Ipsos Reid poll found that one in five Canadians have been exposed to some kind of tax-related scam.

Media are reporting that the latest tax scam features a phishing text message asking recipients to click on a link to what appears to be a TD Canada Trust e-transfer form. The target of the scam is prompted to confirm financial information so that a tax return can be electronically deposited into the victim’s bank account.

tax scam victim, Canada[Image courtesy of CJAM AM 800.]

These types of scams prey on vulnerable people, particularly newcomers to Canada who may honestly believe that this is how the CRA conducts business. The method of communication is new, yet the underlying scam is the same.

Another recent seasonal tax scam comes by phone, where a caller claiming to represent the CRA tells potential victims they will face arrest for back taxes unless they make an immediate payment.

A similar scam is delivered through an email that takes a victim to a bogus website that resembles the CRA’s website, where victims are prompted to reveal personal and financial information.

Whatever the mode or method, a few common sense strategies can help you avoid compromising the financial security of your start up:

  • Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.
  • If you haven’t submitted any tax information yet to the CRA, the agency will certainly not contact you to confirm a tax refund (this is similar to when a telemarketer calls you with news that you won a lottery that you didn’t play).
  • The CRA does not request any personal information of any kind by email, nor does it leave any personal information on an answering machine.
  • The CRA does not issue any payments by email money transfer.

You’ll also be reassured to learn that the CRA is now screening volunteers who assist the agency during tax season, after reports emerged that a CRA volunteer convicted of fraud helped prepare tax returns in 2014. Volunteers now need to get police clearance.

For more prevention tips, check out this guide to tax season scams published by the Certified General Accountants of Canada.

My StartUp CFIB members can get reliable, informed advice on dealing with the CRA by calling 1-888-234-2232. If you’re not a MyStartUp member yet, and you’ve been in business less than two years, sign up for My StartUp for free now. If you’ve been in business longer than two years, sign up for CFIB.

To report a scam this tax season, call the RCMP Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Anti-Fraud Centre’s online Fraud Reporting System (FRS).

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