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Yesterday we received an email from a taxpayer who had been out of Canada for two months. He said he came home to two messages from the Canada Revenue Agency on his voicemail. The messages advised that CRA had issued a warrant for his arrest, and he was required to call a toll-free number immediately. What should he do?, he asked us.

Thousands of people across Canada are receiving these frightening calls every day. But the calls are phony. They are not from the Canada Revenue Agency. They are from scammers who, in most cases, are not even in Canada, and who are using scare tactics to extort money from unsuspecting taxpayers. It is not known how these scammers are sourcing your personal phone number, or how they decide who to target. Our experience suggests, however, that the people targetted often have a small tax balance owing, or have not filed a tax return for a year or two.

Did someone inside the CRA leak a list of names and numbers? Pure speculation on our part, but the accuracy of the targetting is definitely suspicious.

These calls, which are becoming more frequent, are spooky. But they are not legitimate. Here are some quick tips to help you sort genuine CRA calls from the fake ones:

1. A legitimate call from the Canada Revenue Agency WILL NOT leave a message with threats about a warrant for your arrest, passport revocation, or police ivists to your home. Such threats are the hallmarks of the scammers. Do not be fooled.

2. It may be risky to call the phone number left by the scammers. It’s easy to keep records of inbound calls, and you don’t want your home phone, your work phone, or your cell phone numbers in the scammers’ database.

3. If you answer one of these calls, do not provide any information at all, especially your SIN number or even your address. When the real CRA calls you, they already know your SIN number. Simply ask the caller for his or her name and telephone number and say you will get back to them shortly. Above all do not send money or give them a credit card number. (CRA doesn’t take credit card payments!)

4. If you are unsure of the status of your tax affairs, or you suspect you may owe something or have an unfiled tax year, this could be a wake up call to clean things up. You can certainly phone CRA general inquiries and ask the agent to check up on your tax account. But if there is some unfinished business, that could waken the sleeping dragon and put the CRA on your case.

Talk to DioGuardi first. As your authorized representative, DioGuardi can review you tax accounts online without alerting the CRA, and then report back to you. If there is a balance outstanding, or some tax years unfiled, we can then work with you to file everything up to date and, if necessary, negotiate with CRA for payment on terms you can afford.

Use the easy booking form on our homepage to arrange an appointment. Or phone 1-877-4-DIO-TAX.