Tax-related emails, calls fraudulent, say RCMP

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 03:23 pm

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When an Okotoks woman received e-mails claiming she was owed money by Revenue Canada, she couldn’t help but be suspicious.

Carley Kowalczyk received four e-mails from an organization claiming to be the Revenue Canada Agency, complete with letterhead, from November to mid-March requesting personal information to process a $521 refund owed to her following a supposed recalculation by the government organization. The e-mail directed her to click on a link to provide personal information including her social insurance number.

“It just seemed wrong,” she said. “I was like why are they emailing me?”

Rather than follow the e-mail’s instructions, Kowalczyk called Revenue Canada and was told the organization never sends e-mails and to not respond.

“I didn’t see anything about it on the news or in the papers,” she said. “I can see how people would fall for it because it looks very official. Who knows how many people lost money to these people.”

In response to numerous reports of people receiving fraudulent e-mails and phone calls from an organization claiming to be Canada Revenue Agency and requesting personal information or coercing people to pay a fictitious debt, the RCMP is asking citizens to be wary.

“The RCMP have been doing a good job of getting the message out there,” said Randy Westerman, Canada Revenue Agency communications manager for northern Alberta. “The more people we can get it to the better.”

Westerman said information about the fraudulent calls and e-mails is posted on the Canada Revenue Agency website warning people not to respond with any personal information, including credit cards, bank account numbers and passport numbers, as it could lead to identify and financial theft.

In some cases, people were referred to a fraudulent website similar to the Canada Revenue Agency website, said Westerman.

The Canada Revenue Agency website states the company never requests passports, credit cards or drivers licenses from taxpayers and also doesn’t divulge personal information on answering machines. It also provides tips on what people should do to protect themselves from fraud and lists examples of fraudulent activity.

“We release our alerts every couple of months regarding these types of schemes,” Westerman said. “There seems there is so many going on in the last little while. There are some pretty sophisticated ones out there where they create websites, especially this time of the year. It’s tough enough to do your taxes without having to worry about this type of thing.”

Okotoks RCMP Cst. Tammy Tessier said she has not received any complaints at the detachment regarding these phone calls and e-mails, but reminds local residents to be cautious.

“Do not ever provide your personal information out to anybody like that,” she said. “If they have your account they will be able to provide you with information.”

Tessier said there is an ongoing issue with fraudulent activity and people falling prey to it. She said the detachment receives calls about once a week regarding suspicious phone calls or e-mails that are often fraudulent.

Recently, a number of residents received calls from someone claiming to be with Microsoft and saying there is a problem with their computer and requesting personal information, Tessier said.

To learn more about fraudulent activity pertaining to the Canadian Revenue Agency go to www.cra-arc.gc.ca. To report fraudulent activity call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or go online at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

For those who have lost money due to fraud can contact the local RCMP at 938-4202.


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