British Columbians are getting better at spotting scam calls and texts, but they’re being reminded to keep their eyes peeled for scammers posing as the tax officials, as one post-secondary student quickly found out.
A Metro Vancouver post-secondary student recently lost $2,800 to a tax refund scam received via text in January.
Post-secondary students, in particular, are being targeted by scammers claiming an unpaid “federal student tax” and seeking to collect the debt, according to the Better Business Bureau.
The student eventually had her losses reimbursed by her bank and got signed up with Equifax and TransUnion to monitor her credit score and receive alerts for future identity fraud attempts.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says scammers will usually reach out through text or email and falsely claim to issue tax refunds, requesting personal information in order to send the funds. In some cases, they claim to represent a government agency, using the information for identity theft purposes.
CRA spokesperson TJ Madigan emphasized in a news release that the agency “doesn’t use text messages or instant messages to start a conversation with you about your taxes, benefits, or account” and will never send personal information over text, IM, or email.”
The bureau is urging residents to remain vigilant, as scammers are getting better at tricking people into identity theft, and, in extreme cases, taking control of bank accounts.
To avoid tax refund scams, the bureau recommends: checking for spelling mistakes, verifying information through your CRA account, avoiding unsolicited links, signing up for email notifications from the CRA, working with trustworthy vendors and using unique and complex passwords.