indicatorBanking and Fraud Prevention

Top 3 tax season scams the CRA wants you to know about

Go into tax filing season with confidence knowing about the popular tax-related scams and how to prevent them.

By ATB Financial 10 March 2023 3 min read

As you navigate tax filing season, we're here with timely insights and advice to help you identify and avoid tax-related scams. Here are the top scams that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) wants you to know about—and how to prevent them—so you can have a stress-free tax-time.


CRA tax refund scam

False tax refund message over text or by email.

How would you feel if you got a message saying that you're entitled to an unexpected tax refund? If you're excited, you wouldn't be the only one. The key is to make sure that the message is legitimate before taking any action.

You could get a false tax refund message over text or by email. The sender could ask you to click on a link, share personal information or call a phone number, with the purpose of stealing money or personal information. Whatever the reason or method, fraudsters try to trick people by playing off of an unchecked desire for something they weren’t expecting.

How to protect yourself from fraud:

  • No legitimate group—like the CRA—will ever ask you for personal information over messaging.
  • When an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Have a healthy skepticism towards unexpected messages promising money or prizes.
  • Check your CRA account directly to check if you’re getting a refund.
  • When in doubt, call the agency directly and ask them about the message.

CRA phone scams

Fraudsters may be aggressive and use threats over the phone, demanding payment of supposedly overdue taxes.

Sometimes fraudsters pretend to be CRA officers demanding payment of supposedly overdue taxes. They’ll call from either spoofed or seemingly local numbers to appear legitimate, while they may be calling internationally.

By being aggressive and using threats over the phone, they try to bully victims into making payments in untraceable ways, like prepaid credit cards or cryptocurrency.

How to protect yourself from fraud:

  • The CRA will never bully you for money, or use a prerecorded message threatening imprisonment or other severe punishment.
  • Legitimate organizations will never ask you to pay using prepaid credit cards, money transfer or cryptocurrency.
  • Check your CRA account directly to see if you have overdue payments.
  • When in doubt, call the agency directly (not the number that called you).


Fraudulent tax returns

Fraudsters may use your personal information to file a fake tax return.

Fake tax services offered by fraudsters may not give the most direct route to your money, focusing instead on stealing your personal information (identity theft). This scam could involve using your personal information to file a fake tax return (to get redirected funds) or fraudulent credit applications, which can cause a huge financial hit for fraud victims.

How to protect yourself from fraud:

Always research the name of the person and organization who are offering their services—does the company exist? If so, does that person work there?
Call the organization directly to confirm that they sent the email
Never give out personal information over email without confirming the legitimacy of the organization and tax specialist


Be prepared for the 2023 tax scam season

With the information above, you're well on your way to handling tax-related scams. No matter what kind of scam it is, always take the time to confirm the legitimacy of the message and sender before taking any action. Be on the lookout for unexpected messages, whether you think you know the sender or not. Ultimately, it comes down to being careful and pausing before acting.

If you want to confirm that the CRA reached out to you, you can contact them at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals and 1-800-959-5525 for businesses. You also visit the Canada Revenue Agency site for more information.


Want to learn more? Check out these tips to stay protected from identity theft and fraud.​​​​

Need help?

Our Client Care team will be happy to assist.