Published: Feb 7, 2018
BY JENNIFER PARSON
If it seems to good to be true, it is. If something seems off it probably is – too old adages that continue to grow in importance says a local resident who was nearly scared and bullied into paying a fake Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax bill.
“They had an answer for everything,” said Debbie Fretz this week while describing a phone call her and her husband experienced recently informing them of a past due balance on their income tax bill that had resulted in the couple owing more than $3,000.
Surprised and shocked by the news the couple was working to make sense of the interaction when the party on the other end of the phone claimed that they were not looking for a full payment, just a smaller amount in the form of a gift card to show good faith.
Debbie says this was when the feeling of unease gave way to disbelief. She says the couple kept the fraudster on the line, double checked with CRA on their account status and called the police.
“It sounded very legitimate, even how they answered the phone,” said Fretz who notes the caller threatened jail time if not compliant. “We thought oh my goodness we are law-abiding citizens. We don’t want to be caught breaking the law.”
Canada Revenue Agency scams continue to be prevalent prompting police to issue warnings to the public regularly. The federal agency recommends taxpayers should be vigilant when they receive, either by telephone, mail, text message or email, a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requesting personal information.
“These scams may insist that this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or a benefit payment. Cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA,” says the Agency.
Debbie says she wants to warn others, including seniors, of their experience.
“There are people out there that are trying to get your money and they do it through fear and intimidation, which is exactly what [the caller] did and it was working…we felt attacked and vulnerable and now are very cautious.”
If you receive a call saying money is owed to CRA the agency recommends contacting them directly at 1-800-959-8281or through their website and to report deceptive telemarketing to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501.