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‘Protect Yourself From Scams’ Information Session Held At Senior Centre


Manny Kaur from the Canada Revenue Agency presents a “Protect Yourself from Scams” information session at the Vermilion Senior Centre. Photo submitted

Nearly 70 people gathered at the Senior Centre on October 11 to learn how to protect themselves and loved ones against scams. Highlighting that over 100 Canadians fall victim to scams every day and that most scammers try to imitate government organizations, Manny Kaur from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) presented an information session detailing the types of scams people should be on the lookout against, as well as what to expect from legitimate correspondence from the CRA.

Scammers trying to imitate government agencies will typically seek to obtain a victim’s name, social insurance number, date of birth, address, mother’s maiden name, or other information that might be used in security questions. If a person calls you seeking this information and claiming to be the CRA, you can ask for the agent’s ID number and then say you are not comfortable with disclosing any information over the phone. Hang up and call the CRA back at the number listed on their website—NOT the number the person on the other line has given you—so they can check their call logs to ensure the individual was, in fact, from the CRA.

There are three main things to look for in fraudulent communication:

- A sense of extreme urgency in making a payment.

- Threatening consequences such as arrest, deportation, or calling the RCMP for failing to comply with the request for immediate payment.

- Requiring payment through a method that is non-traceable, such as cash, gift card, cryptocurrency, or a pre-paid credit card.

Additionally:

- The CRA does not do Interac e-transfers.

- The CRA does not list personal information (e.g., amount owed or owing) in text or email communication.

- CRA payments never expire (so if there is pressure to click on a link to deposit an amount before it expires, you can be assured that this is a scam).

- The CRA will not ask you to click on a link to fill out a form with personal information.

If the CRA does call you, it will be for one of three reasons:

- To notify you that you owe money to a government program.

- To help you file your taxes if you are a non-filer.

- To ask questions about taxes and benefits or documents that you have sent.

In each of these cases, the CRA will never make demands for immediate payment or threats for failure to pay. Instead, you may receive follow-up notices of assessment, late filing penalties, or arrears interest.

The CRA will typically NOT communicate with you via text message, email, or social media platforms, with two exceptions:

- The CRA’s online MyAccount platform may ask you to click a “Text here” button to have a one-time passcode sent to your mobile device to securely access your account. You will then input that code into the MyAccount platform. However, this process will never request or provide personal information.

- The CRA may send you a generic email saying there is new mail in your online CRA account, but that email will not provide personal details. You will need to securely log into your account to read those messages.

If you do fall victim to a scam, there are five places you should call to inform them of what has happened:

- Your local police.

- Your bank.

- Service Canada (if you have given out your Social Insurance Number) at 1-866-274-6627.

- The Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals or 1-800-959-5525 for businesses.

- The Credit Bureau at Equifax Canada at 1-800-465-7166 or TransUnion Canada at 1-800-663-9980.

- The Anti-Fraud Centre at antifraudcentre.ca or 1-888-495-850.

Victims and near-victims report emotional overwhelm and fear after experiencing these threats, and it can be helpful to talk to trusted family or members of the community or even a mental health professional about these experiences. To minimize the risk of tax scams, register for a CRA account online at canada.ca/my-cra-account. Use a unique password, set up a personal identification number for when you call the CRA, make sure your personal information is up to date, don’t share security codes or your social insurance number, and be cautious before you click any unfamiliar link.

A light meal from AG Foods was included for those in attendance. This session was hosted and sponsored by Town of Vermilion Family & Community Support Services (FCSS).

The next free information session at the Senior Centre will be “What’s for Dinner? Aging with Health and Vitality,” presented by Caroline McAuley as a joint venture between AHS and FCSS on Thursday, October 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This session will include a soup lunch. To register for this session or if you have any follow-up questions about scams, call Senior Support Coordinator Shirley McRobert at 780-581-2414.

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