Edmonton Police are warning about a scam that mimics tax documents used by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Police say e-mails and letters claiming to be from the CRA are now in circulation. Some promise a refund based on an error from the previous tax season while others say an error has been found and ask the recipient to respond immediately.
In both cases, the addressee is asked to fill in personal information including their social insurance number, birth date or credit card number.
Const. Nadine Swist with the Economic Crimes Section said the forms are designed to make people want to respond quickly.
“People are getting excited because they’re getting a refund and who wouldn’t get excited to get money back from the government? So they’re filling the form out quickly, not giving it much thought, and the forms are very authentic looking,” she said.
“They're putting all that information in and they’re hitting send before they step back and take a look at it.”
But Swist said there are a couple of ways to tell whether the documents are authentic. First, the method of delivery is important.
“What people don’t realize is that the CRA only uses snail mail,” she said.
She thinks the scammers are using graphics and images copied directly from the CRA website to make the emails look legitimate.
Also, Swist noted that the CRA is unlikely to request information from a recipient.
“[The CRA] are not going to ask you for your information – they know who you are, they know everything about you … so if they're asking you for that information, [it’s] one of the first clues that maybe its not the right thing.”
And while Swist said the timing of this particular scam makes it dangerous, it is not an isolated incident.
“They’re trying a variety of frauds on different people – and this is just one of the frauds they’re doing … and it’s just really a good time to target people because people have taxes on their mind.”