By Greg Price
A familiar scam has been resurfacing in the southern Alberta region in which one local is stressing for people to be wary of especially seniors.
George Stringam was contacted last Wednesday at around 3 p.m. with the Canada Revenue Agency scam where fraudsters call consumers impersonating the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), claiming a recent audit has identified discrepancies from past filed taxes. Repayment is required immediately.
Fraudsters threaten consumers that failure to pay will result in additional fees and/or jail time or deportation.
Fraudsters request payment by a money service business or pre-paid cards/gift cards (iTunes).
“I got one ring on my cellphone and then a message where only half the message was there. The ring was long enough to register a number and like a fool I called the number back. I didn’t know, the message sounded sort of cryptic,” said Stringam.
“The person on the other end of the line said they were from the CRA, and threatened attorneys and police action if I didn’t pay the money owed for tax evasion.”
“I’ve been in pretty good standing so I didn’t think there was a problem. But they are professionals and they know how to get you keyed up,” said Stringam. “They were basically saying I had to have it paid yesterday or else I was getting arrested. I had heard of the rumours of this scam going around.”
Stringam kept the scammer on the phone while he traveled to Lethbridge with his branch being closed in Taber. Bank staff checked to see if there were any sanctions on his account with the caller demanding money being withdrawn which everything checked out in the clear. then reported the number and call to the Lethbridge Police Service.
“Apparently the police officer at the desk said he got a call just like a day before,” said Stringam. “I just wanted to report it because I worry about the elderly getting calls like this. They had me going and there are people who are considerably older than me where they’ll try and take them to the cleaners.”
“In fact, they told me there in Lethbridge, there was one big case where a guy got bilked out of $85,000.”
Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself
1. The CRA will never ask for personal information through an e-mail or text message or by clicking on a link.
2. The CRA will never request payment by prepaid credit cards or iTunes gift cards, and it does not send e-mails containing details of a tax refund or Interac e-transfer payments.
3. The CRA advises Canadians to confirm the status of their tax accounts before taking any action that may be the result of pressure from suspicious calls or e-mails, and to verify the legitimacy of the communication by contacting the CRA directly at 1-800-959-8281 or by checking My Account or My Business Account.
4. For more information about fraud scams involving the CRA, visit Protect yourself against fraud.
5. If you’ve shared personal information, contact Equifax and Trans Union to place fraud alerts on your account.
6. If you’ve shared banking information with the scammers, contact your financial institution to place alerts on your account.