One thing rings true regarding almost all scams. That is people almost always say, “Who would fall for that, I know I would never get caught – I am too wise for that”. What these same people forget is that the people conducting these scams, frauds and hacks are professionals and need to be given the respect accordingly – not for what they do of course, but for how well they do it. Truth is, those same people that say this are totally shocked when they realize it actually did happen and then they wonder… “What are they going to do about it?” Please ask yourself… “Who are “They”?” The responsibility to stay safe and be aware of these things is yours and yours alone.
Specifically, I am addressing the so called “CRA” Scams. These can occur in different formats. They traditionally started by an unsuspecting individual receiving an email suggesting that there is an unclaimed balance of a refund. Click the link in order to arrange delivery of the funds. I remember seeing one of these that came to me. It showed the correct and legitimate CRA address, website and email address. However, when checking the properties of the email address it was masked to go to an email address in Europe.
This type of email can be structured just to collect your personal information and can usually be asking for your account numbers and bank information so the alleged bank deposit can be conveniently done for you. Other times it might be used as a vehicle to deposit malware on to your computer, which could also include the ability to read your keystrokes. The CRA will not email you so do not open them.
Recently these programs have been elevated to include telephone calls, texts on smartphones and even letters by mail. The telephone, smartphone and text versions are brutal and threatening. You are told that there is an unpaid balance that needs to be cleared immediately and if it is not then the police will be dispatched to make an arrest. They want payment via credit card over the phone NOW!
If in doubt, contact the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) directly and ask about your account – but do not use the contact information provided to you at that time. Look it up yourself so you have no question in your mind that you are actually speaking to a representative of CRA and not the crook who contacted you.
Some people reading this will laugh and others will ask how someone could be so “stupid”. What you need to understand is that this is easy to say – until you have become the victim. Remember, as I mentioned at the start, these people are good, professional at what they do, but mostly are smooth and have a mastery in dealing with people.
Therefore, understanding, knowledge and awareness are supreme here. With these three factors in place it becomes easier to be savvy to these actions enough that you can calmly step away and perhaps even get enough information to file a police report. The most important factor is to keep you and your identity safe.
George Greenwood has spoken across the country on issues related to identity loss and abuse for the last 14 years. He is the author of “In Your Good Name”, “Confessions of an identity thief” and Memories of a stolen life”. As an advocate, he wrote the original resolution that became section 402.1-5 of the Criminal Code of Canada after receiving Royal Ascent in Parliament. George has been asked on two separate occasions to submit recommendations to the BC Provincial Review Committee of the Personal Information Privacy Act (PIPA).