Tax, CRA, and Service Canada Scams


Especially during tax season, scammers posing as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Service Canada agents may try to steal your personal information or money. They do this using phone calls, text messages, emails, web forms, and even snail-mail letters. The scammers could ask for your Social Insurance Number (SIN), birth date, name, address, and banking details. They could ask for payment by gift card, Interac e-transfer, credit card, gift card, or even bitcoin. They might threaten you with jail, or they may offer you an unexpected tax refund.

Example Tax Scam Email

This email was sent to Mount mailboxes in January 2020. Note all the red flags that indicate it is not legitimate, including:

  1. A “{Spam}” warning tag in the subject
  2. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes
  3. A suspicious sender name and email address
  4. An expiry date deadline
  5. A suspicious link URL
  6. CRA does not send e-transfers, quote refund amounts in emails, nor ask you to click links
CRA Tax Scan Email Example
Example CRA/tax phishing email. Click the image to view a larger version.

How to Tell Scammers from the Government

Government agents may contact you asking for information, but they will never:

  1. Ask for personal information in an email
  2. Ask you to click a link in an email to fill out a web form
  3. State refund or owing amounts in the text of an email
  4. Demand payment in a text message or in a social media app
  5. Robocall you or leave threatening voicemails
  6. Demand immediate payment by e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards, or gift cards
  7. Pay your refund by e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards, or gift cards
  8. Threaten you with arrest or prison

In addition, CRA and Service Canada both have excellent resources on what to expect when they contact you, and how to spot scammers. See these links for more info:

Prevention Tips

Use Official Phone Numbers from the Government Websites

If you think you are being contacted by a government agent, you can ask for them to send the information to you in writing, or you can call them back using phone numbers from the Canadian Government website. Don’t call back numbers received in emails or in voicemails, they could be fake.

Don’t Believe Caller ID or Email Addresses

Scammers can spoof official government phone numbers when they call you, so don’t trust a phone call based on caller ID. Likewise, don’t trust an email based on the email address or the sender’s name as these also can be spoofed.

Do It Online

You can create accounts on the CRA My Account and the My Service Canada websites where you can communicate directly with the government online.

Report Suspicious Emails to the IT&S Help Desk

If you receive a suspicious email, please forward it to IT&S can block fraudulent email addresses, and can report them to email providers and to the government.

Take the Mount’s Free Cybersecurity Training

Awareness is your best defense against cybercrime, so the Mount offers the Beauceron cybersecurity awareness training free to all students, faculty, and staff. Learn more and sign up at

If You Think You Are a Victim of Fraud

Getting scammed is very stressful, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Contact the Police

If you have shared your personal information (e.g. social insurance number, credit card number, date of birth, name, etc.) with a scammer or were defrauded, call your local police using their non-emergency number to file a report. Even if you were not defrauded, they should give you a case/file number which you can reference in the future in case you are defrauded based on this incident.

Contact Service Canada

If your SIN has been stolen, you should also contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218. For more information, see the Social Insurance Number/Service Canada website.

Contact Your Financial Institution

If you you’ve shared banking or credit card information with a scammer, please be contact your bank or credit card company.

Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

You can report any fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. This is a joint effort of the RCMP, the Competition Bureau of Canada, and the Ontario Provincial Police. It is not an investigative service, however, so report anything you want investigated to the police as well.

Monitor Your Credit Rating

If your SIN or other personal information has been stolen, consider periodically checking your credit rating to catch identity theft as early as possible. You can do this for free once a year with the major credit reporting agencies or purchase a credit monitoring service.

Consider Identity Theft Insurance

If you think you are at high risk for identity theft, then considering getting identity theft insurance. If you have house insurance, it may be included in your policy.