How to avoid falling for a CRA phone scam this tax season


2023-03-10 05:46:20

It’s tax season again, which means it’s also open season for fraudsters posing as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees to scam Canadians out of their money and personal information.

Sometimes the agency responsible for administering Canada’s tax laws really does call to discuss taxpayers’ files. Usually, the purpose of the call will be to review an income tax and benefit return, including GST, HST, T4 or T5 information. In most cases, a call like this will be a routine check. The CRA will also sometimes phone small business owners or self-employed workers to offer free tax help through its Liaison Officer service.

A scammer posing as a CRA agent might use a range of tactics – from making threats to promising a refund – to scare or entice a victim into sending money or sharing banking, credit card or other personal information.

Knowing when you’re talking to an actual agent, rather than a criminal posing as one, could be the key to avoiding a scam this year.

Here are some steps recommended by the CRA you can take to protect yourself this tax season.


A legitimate CRA employee will identify themself by name and, if asked, provide a callback number.

If you’re suspicious, don’t share any information over the phone without first confirming the caller is a CRA employee. Here’s how. First, tell the caller you want to verify their identity. Request and write down their name, phone number and office location.

Next, end the call and check that the information they provided was legitimate by contacting the CRA.

Individuals can reach the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 in the provinces, or 1-866-426-1527 in the territories. Businesses can reach the CRA at 1-800-959-5525 in the provinces, or 1-866-841-1876 in the territories.

Once you’re able to confirm the caller was a CRA employee, you can call them back to talk about the reason for their call.

Phone lines for individual tax, benefits and business calls offer an automated callback service when wait times reach a certain threshold. Any request for a callback generates a four-digit confirmation number, which a CRA employee will read out at the time of the callback. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a CRA employee while waiting for a callback, make sure the caller knows the callback number.


If a caller claiming to be a CRA employee is actually a scammer, there will usually be some telltale signs. These red flags include, but are not limited to:

• The caller does not provide proof of working for the CRA, like their name and office location or number

• The caller pressures you to act quickly, uses aggressive language or threatens to have you arrested or to call the police

• The caller asks you to pay with a prepaid credit card, gift card, cryptocurrency or some other unusual form of payment

• The caller asks for information you would not enter on a tax return, or that is not related to money you owe the CRA. For example, the might ask for a credit card number.

• The caller recommends that you apply for benefits. They may offer to apply for benefits on your behalf. Do not share any information with a caller who offers to do this. Instead, apply for benefits directly through the appropriate Government of Canada website or by phone.

Scammers also try to trick people into clicking malicious links within fraudulent emails and text messages. For more examples of CRA-related scams visit the CRA’s scam alerts page.


If you think you might have fallen victim to a scam or that you’ve provided personal information to a scammer, report the suspected scam by calling the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre page and follow the steps to report a scam.

You should also contact your local police service, your financial institution and relevant credit reporting agencies.

Contact the CRA if you think your CRA account has been compromised; you find changes you did not request to your banking, address, business, or personal information; you find a benefit application made for you without your knowledge; or you want to disable or enable online access to the CRA’s sign-in services. 

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