CRA scam season is a nightmare

Daniel Caudle

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Over the last two weeks, my phone has become a ringing nightmare as calls have lit up my screen brighter than a Christmas tree.

Sometimes it happens at 7 a.m. and gets me up on the wrong foot. Other times it happens while relaxing on my couch in the evening, drinking tea and trying to catch up on the latest Netflix original.

The one constant is that the caller is always someone who says they represent the Canada Revenue Agency, that they need my social insurance number, and that they want to give a rebate on my income taxes.

Now, of course, this is a scam. I am a millennial, and being tech-savvy means all my CRA filings and communications have been done online since I was 18. Not once have I called the CRA, nor have they legitimately called me. Indeed, they say they would never call anyone.

This is not a new scam, but it would appear scammers are now committed to calling people dozens of times a week with a relentless efficiency until they can find someone who falls prey.

I’ve never got past the initial first words that identify the caller as a ‘CRA employee’, although I know from online forums that their purpose is to acquire your SIN number and commit fraudulent activity.

It’s always frustrating when these scammers get a hold of your phone number because the first time they always get you to answer. Every phone scam season I fall prey to answering that first call.

It seems that once they get you to answer one time their algorithm kicks in and the calls multiply.

To make things even worse scammers have somehow become able to duplicate the number they are calling and will slightly swap the numbers. This leads me to see the number and believe it is a local person trying to contact me.

The perils seem to be over – for now – after I learned that Indian authorities said they shut down a call centre where dozen of people were attempting to dupe Canadians.

Since this was reported Nov. 18 I have no longer received a single call from someone claiming to be from the CRA. I still receive the odd Westjet scam phone call, but that’s been going on for over five years and seems to be only once every eight months.

The CRA scammers duped themselves through their greed when their relentless calls stirred up too much media coverage and instigated the heads of a few media companies to question why they were receiving calls.

There was even the instance of the police office from Victoria B.C. answering the call and pressing the caller for information before that call abruptly ended.

I wonder how effective these scam callers are. But I would think they must be convincing enough for some people to be duped.

If not, it wouldn’t be worth their effort.

The most important thing to know is that this is a black market regulated highly-efficient scam that preys on those who are seeking easy money.

As the old cliche goes, if it seems to good to be true it usually is, and this is no different.