Friday, March 27, 2015

Beware: Tax Refund Scams

March is Fraud Prevention month and with tax season here, scammers are keeping busy trying to claim victims via phone and email scams.

During tax season, it is common to see fraudulent phone calls and email from scammers. They disguise themselves as coming from legitimate government agencies like the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Some of these emails claim that the recipient has received a refund because the CRA has recalculated their tax return. Others claim that the the recipient owes the CRA money. I've personally received a few of these fraudulent emails asking me to claim my tax refund.

These fraudulent emails contain links that are disguised as legitimate, but are used for phishing purposes. Some of these links may be used to spread malware, spyware or viruses. You can check the video below to see some of these sample emails that I've received.

Others have received fraudulent phones calls saying that the recipient owes the CRA monies that needs to be paid immediately. Their main goal is to create a sense of urgency and put the potential victim on the spot and feed off their fear.

"The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) warns all taxpayers to beware of telephone calls or emails that claim to be from the CRA but are not. These are phishing and other fraudulent scams that could result in identity and financial theft." - Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

Below is an image of a fraudulent email that I received in February 2015. As you will notice, it is disguised as coming from the Canada Revenue Agency, however on closer look it is quite easy to tell that this particular email message is fraudulent.

How can you tell if this is a fraudulent email message? Well, one clue is the email address. Notice the email address "Customer...@imm.apple.com". Clearly, it is not well disguised. The second clue was the "CLICK HERE" hyperlink towards the end of the email. When I hovered my mouse over the link, it showed some weird-looking website address something like "http://fert56thyuj78p9l.is-a-financialadvisor.com/uebimiau/theme/index.php"


I've received several other fraudulent emails messages like the one below. This particular email message was quite easy to detect as fraudulent, but others may be very well disguised. Therefore, it's important to stay vigilant and be prepared. There are various other types and format of fraudulent email messages. You can check the CRA website to see Samples of Fraudulent Email Messages.

Similarly, you may receive fraudulent phone calls from scammers claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. These fraudulent people calling may claim that you owe the CRA back taxes or ask you to claim a refund. They try to create a sense of urgency so as to cause fear and panic in order for potential victims to act on impulse. In doing so, they get you to divulge sensitive and personal information which is used for identity or financial theft.

There are many things you can do to ensure that you don't fall victim to scams discussed above. Watch the informational video below that I created and be prepared, and protect yourself and family:


There are many other types of scams and you can check the Little Black Book of Scams to learn more and ensure that you don't fall victim to these scams. Also, you check this Guide on Shopping Safely Online. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences and tips on tax refund and tax owing scams.