There’s a scam cre­ated ev­ery day

The Glengarry News - - News -

Mary and Wil­liam are mar­ried and have three kids. They are both work­ing pro­fes­sion­als but with the ris­ing costs of kids, bills, and mort­gage, they find them­selves hav­ing trou­ble mak­ing ends meet.

One day, Mary and Wil­liam re­ceive an in­vi­ta­tion in the mail to a sem­i­nar that prom­ises hefty tax breaks. Dur­ing the sem­i­nar, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from a char­ity ex­plains to the group that if they do­nate im­me­di­ately they will re­ceive tax re­ceipts for four times the amount they do­nate. Mary and Wil­liam fig­ure this is a win­win; they will be do­nat­ing to a de­serv­ing char­ity and will get a hefty tax break. They de­cide to each do­nate $500 be­cause the tax break will help them with their fi­nan­cial trou­bles.

Af­ter fil­ing their tax claim for the do­na­tion, Mary and Wil­liam re­ceive a no­tice that the Canada Rev­enue Agency will be hold­ing their as­sess­ment while they re­view the case. It turns out that Mary and Wil­liam were tricked into a gift­ing tax shel­ter, and ended up los­ing the money that they paid with­out a tax break. They are em­bar­rassed and up­set.

Does this sce­nario sound fa­mil­iar? This cou­ple is not alone. In re­cent years, ap­prox­i­mately 2,500 in­di­vid­u­als a year par­tic­i­pated in gift­ing tax shel­ter ar­range­ments. To date, over 190,000 Cana­dian tax­pay­ers who do­nated to one of th­ese tax shel­ter schemes have been re­assessed. Nearly $6.3 bil­lion in do­na­tion claims have been de­nied. Be wary if you are of­fered a tax re­ceipt worth more than the amount you do­nated.

Ob­tain in­de­pen­dent pro­fes­sional ad­vice from a tax ad­vi­sor be­fore sign­ing any doc­u­ments.

Ask for writ­ten in­for­ma­tion about the char­ity, in­clud­ing name, ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber.

Call the char­ity. Find out if the or­ga­ni­za­tion is aware of the so­lic­i­ta­tion and has au­tho­rized the use of its name. If not, you may be deal­ing with a scam artist.

Con­firm if the char­ity is reg­is­tered and el­i­gi­ble to is­sue of­fi­cial do­na­tion re­ceipts through CRA’s char­i­ties list­ings.

Ask the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the char­ity’s reg­is­tered char­i­ta­ble tax num­ber. Refuse high pres­sure sales pitches. Le­git­i­mate fundrais­ers will not push you to give on the spot.

Amy is a young pro­fes­sional be­gin­ning her ca­reer af­ter grad­u­at­ing from univer­sity. One day at work, she re­ceives a call from a num­ber that she doesn’t rec­og­nize. The in­di­vid­ual on the line iden­ti­fies him­self as a CRA em­ployee, and claims that Amy has an out­stand­ing debt. He ex­plains that con­fir­ma­tion of Amy’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing her birth­date and bank ac­count, is re­quired to sort out the debt with a re-pay­ment plan.

Amy does not re­call ow­ing the CRA money. What’s more, she does not re­mem­ber pro­vid­ing the CRA with her work num­ber. When she voices th­ese con­cerns, the re­quester be­comes ag­i­tated, and warns Amy that there will be con­se­quences if she does not co­op­er­ate. Al­though she is ap­pre­hen­sive, she has never per­son­ally dealt with the CRA and as­sumes the re­quest must be nor­mal. She re­luc­tantly agrees to pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion.

Does this sce­nario sound fa­mil­iar? Ev­ery year, Cana­di­ans lose mil­lions of dol­lars to tele­phone phish­ing scams that re­sult in iden­tity and fi­nan­cial theft. Beware of tele­phone calls claim­ing to be from the CRA. The CRA never asks for in­for­ma­tion such as credit card, health card or pass­port num­bers. The CRA never threat­ens to lay crim­i­nal charges or have you put in jail if you don’t pay your taxes. If a tele­phone scam­mer uses threats to co­erce you into pro­vid­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, ig­nore the call and re­port it to the RCMP Anti-Fraud Cen­tre by email at www.an­tifraud­cen­tre­cen­tre­an­tifraude.ca or by call­ing 1-888-495-8501. If the CRA does need to con­tact you by tele­phone, there are es­tab­lished pro­cesses in place to en­sure your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is pro­tected. If you want to con­firm the au­then­tic­ity of a CRA tele­phone call by call­ing the CRA us­ing the num­bers on its tele­phone num­bers page. For busi­ness-re­lated calls, call 1-800-959-5525 and for in­di­vid­ual con­cerns, con­tact 1-800-959-8281.

DON’T BE A VIC­TIM: Check out the anti-fraud cen­tre’s site for valu­able scam-foil­ing tips.

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