What is a CRA scam?

Fraudsters steal money and personal information by impersonating the CRA to make their demands seem legitimate. They'll either pressure you with threats of legal or law enforcement action to send money for a false outstanding balance or they'll ask for personal information under the pretense of issuing a tax refund.

CRA scams typically follow a similar pattern:

  1. A fraudster reaches out to you and says they're from the CRA. This can happen through a phone call, email, text message or by mail.
  2. The fraudster will make an urgent demand. The demand is usually immediate payment for taxes you allegedly owe. Sometimes, they'll ask for personal information like your bank account details or Social Insurance Number to process a tax refund.
  3. If the demand is for payment, the fraudster will make aggressive threats to force you to pay quickly.
  4. The fraudster may take your money under the pretense that you paid an outstanding balance, or steal your identity because you provided personal information.

Signs of a CRA scam

  • You're told to make an immediate payment by Interac e-Transfer® or other payment methods like prepaid cards, gift cards and cryptocurrency
  • You're threatened with aggressive language, legal action or arrest
  • You receive an email or text that asks you to enter your personal information or make a payment through a link
  • You're asked to meet in a public place to make a payment
  • You receive a text from the CRA; the CRA never communicates with taxpayers through text message or instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp

Stay safe with our tips

  • Only provide personal or banking information when you've initiated the call to a known number or contact. Never provide it when an unknown party asks you.
  • Try to authenticate the caller. Fraudsters can spoof phone numbers to appear legitimate, so don't rely on call display alone.
  • Take your time to understand the request or situation. The CRA never makes threats about money you owe, so don't rush into making a payment if you're being threatened. To determine if you owe a balance, call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 Opens your phone app..
  • Don't agree to meet someone in a public place to make a payment.
  • Set up direct deposit with the CRA so you can receive any refunds efficiently and safely.

Explore more about CRA scams

Slam the scam - Canada Revenue Agency Opens in a new window.

Spot and avoid scams that could exploit your tax and personal information.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Opens in a new window.

Report fraud when it happens and track the latest data on fraud happening in Canada.

The Little Black Book of Scams Opens in a new window.

Download the Canadian Competition Bureau's guide to scams in 8 different languages.