Beware of CRA phone scam

Imposters are demanding so-called unpaid tax money



Online only.

phone scams

(Getty Images)

Beware—another telephone scam is on the rise, and if you’re not careful, it could cost you.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is warning taxpayers to watch out for scammers that call, impersonate official agents, and issue threats of court charges, jail time and even deportation for failure to pay a fake outstanding tax debt.

The caller then demands to be paid via some pretty unofficial means. For instance, they tend to ask the unsuspecting taxpayer to purchase prepaid credit cards and to stay on the phone with them to pass along the information. They may also request Western Union, MoneyGram or even your bank’s E-Transfer service.

“It’s a massive scam,” says Daniel Williams, a fraud specialist with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. In fact, it’s the biggest phone scam they’re currently dealing with. Out of the 300 or so complaints the Centre can handle daily, lately up to one-third have been regarding the phony CRA callers.

Williams says the amount of money that the fraudsters demand can be anywhere between $700 and $2,500. Authorities suspect that the criminals are scouring public online phone directories like Canada 411 to pick foreign-sounding names to target. The fraudsters are hoping their victims are recent immigrants that are less familiar with the practices of the CRA and therefore more likely to fall for their schemes.

SIN number stolen? Here’s how to fight back »

The scammers can be very convincing if they capture your attention for a few minutes on the phone. They tell their victims that their taxes have been audited and they owe money. They assure their victims with ID numbers and case numbers to sound legitimate. And while the caller ID may display an Ottawa phone number, the scammers are usually using technology to “spoof” their actual location, which could further assuage the doubts of a gullible taxpayer.

Williams says that if you encounter what appears to be a CRA agent calling you for money, before you make any rash decisions, make sure to verify who exactly you’re talking to. Ask for a name, a case number and inform the caller that you will be contacting the Government of Canada for further information. If they balk, give you a bogus-sounding email or try to convince you to stay on the phone, be wary. A legitimate institution won’t mind if you get in touch by another means.

Another red flag, according to Williams, is if the caller has a sense of urgency. If they pressure you to act quickly or give you a deadline of a couple of hours to complete a payment, that’s a dead giveaway that something is up. “Real entities aren’t going to go out of business tomorrow,” he says. Scammers want to get their hands on your hard-earned money as soon as possible because they know that if you have a few moments to think and do a quick Google search or ask a friend, their jig is up.

Whereas these fraudsters try to strike fear in our law-abiding hearts, other scammers try to entice Canadians with the promise of extra benefits and refunds. These wily guys cast their net for victims via email rather than phone and wheedle out important personal information—including your SIN and bank details—under the guise of sending you more money, only to bleed you dry.

Holy tax evasion, Batman! »

This scam is being sent to more people, since it’s a lot easier sending out a mass email than making personal phone calls. However, as Internet users become savvier, this type of ploy is attracting fewer victims than before. According to Williams, a red flag for this CRA scam is if the email starts with a generic “Dear Taxpayer,” which the real tax collector would never do. Alternatively, if your email address includes your name, these impostors may use that in the greeting instead, but watch out for bad spelling and grammar throughout the rest.

If you have received this call or email and have fallen for the ruse, Williams recommends immediately attempting to stop the transfer of money. Depending on how long it has been since the initial call, this may not be possible. Regardless of whether you can save your money, report the fraud to the police.

Here are some additional points to consider if you ever think you’re dealing with a scammer, taken from the CRA website.

The CRA:

  • never requests prepaid credit cards;
  • never asks for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence;
  • never shares your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have provided the appropriate authorization; and
  • never leaves personal information on your answering machine or asks you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.

When in doubt, ask yourself the following:

  • Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
  • Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
  • Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
  • How did the requester get my email address or telephone number?
  • Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?






16 comments on “Beware of CRA phone scam

  1. That’s very complete tips. Thank you for posting these information. It seems that they have been around since several years ago, and still doing their “job” until now. I’ve found so many complaints about these fake CRA scams at Twitter, blogs, and some sites like since several time ago, and even until now. These information is very helpful for us, especially the older people. I am surely will share it!


  2. I recently received a call who claimed to be from Revenue Canada – the telephone number (613) seemed to be legitimate at first. When I started speaking to the person I soon realized it could not be legitimate when the person’s English was so bad, it would be horrible if CRA had someone with such difficulty speaking English calling customers. After he told me they sent me (3) certified letters and I did not respond, they will be going to the courthouse and arrest me, I realized this was a scam. Well, I decided to play along to see where this was going, so I told him “I will pay you today” and he asked if with cash or from my account – I then told him it doesn’t matter but I will send you the money. At that point I got so fed up and told him never to call my number again – I called CRA and told them about my ordeal, that’s when they informed me about the scam going around.


    • Hey brother we have the very same experience this morning why would people do like this thing to us what did we do wrong brother I hope these guys will be caught immediately so they won’t victimized seniors and poor families like us!!! God bless you my brother for sharing this to everybody.


  3. Got my 6th call today! Have now blocked the three numbers from which “John Brown” was calling.


  4. You know I was one of the victims here in West Edmonton Safeway Western Union luckily I was saved by one of the Safeway ladies. This anonymous caller was impersonating he was a police officer to arrest me but when the Safeway lady was asking his badge number the fraudster started to call her names lie you mother f and bitch then I started to think that the guy was a scambag so we called the real local police and gave them the numbers they used to call me *1613-366-3491 and 1800-802-8020 the guy sound like East Indian accent …Beware all Canadians be careful I’m sharing my dreadful experience!!!


  5. Had a call yesterday saying he was calling from the CRA and we being charged with fraud the number that came up was 1-844-240-3124. My husband hung up because he couldn’t understand a word he said. I know that this is a scam… we are seniors.


  6. I just came home to a message like that. 226-909-2320 was the phone number his name was Jason Miller and if I or my representative don’t call I will suffer the consequences.


  7. just got a message from RCA that i was in trouble and to get a hold of my lawyer!! They left the message after 5pm and when i called back at 630pm they told me to call back tomorrow between 9-5 that they were closed!! Then why are they answering the phone??? The is is the number they gave me 343-882-5906. Is this some kind of joke???


  8. Office Jason Wright called me with an arrest warrant. Of course didn’t mention my name or anything but said call 917-310-9258. Second message left on my answering system from them. First one said arrest warrant and asset seizure. Guys voice was like a robot and the number was 917-310-9258. ONtario Canada and the CRA is not in New York like the 917 code would have you believe.


  9. I just came home from work and there was a message from the CRA on my phone. Told me that the was a lien on my taxes and to call them at this number . Tax default line 844-395-7954. The next message came an hour later, same message, same threats of legal action and I had better call them before 24 hours was up. Also the same number as before! This happened on May 2 2016.


  10. Someone just called my cell phone and after a second’s hesitation, a pre-recorded voice said he was Andrew White and that he was from Revenue Canada Crimes Unit and that I or my lawyer had to phone 1-888-525-4602 immediately. Then the call ended. I decided to call to see what I could find out and the voice (a rough one with a lot of background noise of other callers, it seemed) said he was Daniel Smith with Canada Revenue Agency and what could he do to help me. He asked for my name and spelling. I told him my first name and then stopped. I told him I thought this was a scam and that it wasn’t Canada Revenue Agency. The person hung up as I was hanging up. I write this so you can check on that phone number. It was the one that showed up on my cell. Thank you.


  11. They’ve been calling me all morning from 613-777-0078. Same old: you owe $ and we have a warrant if you don’t pay.


  12. I would like to report that I have received 5 phone calls in the last couple of months from 1-855-483-9672 they asked me for personal information that CRA would have on file so I did not give out any of my information. I informed, Terry Hanniburg (name he gave me when I asked). He informed me that the police will come and arrest me now if I do not pay up today. I do owe some money to CRA however, must pay it bit by bit as am a retiree, I did not tell him this. I am confident that this is a scam and wanted to report the phone number it came from.


  13. I get 2-3 phone call everyday. Recording saying they are from the car. That I must return their phone call soon as possible. I tried calling that number. It’s not in service. How can I stop these callers


  14. I just received a telephone scam impersonating CRA, threatening to put a lien on my home. The number of the caller was 1 214 824 3252 – Hope that isn’t in Nigeria :)


  15. I have been contacted several times this week, they give case no. And badge no. Saying I owe money but I can hardly understand him, so he is offshore. I just hang up


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *