High Prairie RCMP warn about phone tax scam

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Residents of the High Prairie area are being warned of a telephone scam that makes its annual return.

High Prairie RCMP have received a significant number of reports in the past several weeks from residents who have received phone calls from individuals claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency and the RCMP, says an RCMP news release dated Jan. 9.

“These phone calls are high pressure in nature and in some cases, the victim is threatened with arrest if the amounts are not paid,” says Cpl. Deanna Fontaine, media relations officer for the RCMP Western Alberta District.

“The callers claim that the potential victim owes money in taxes, which must be paid as soon as possible.”

In one investigation, the suspect advised the victim to purchase Google Play cards in order to repay money to CRA.

“The scam is not new and it resurfaces every year during tax season,” Fontaine says.

“The practice of ‘call spoofing’ over Internet has facilitated this crime by making the call display of victims falsely read either a local number, the official number of the Canada Revenue Agency or a local RCMP detachment.”

Police provide several safety tips.

  • No legitimate government agency or business will demand anyone to pay in gift cards or prepaid credit cards. “Those methods are used by criminals in order to hide their activities from police,” Fontaine says.
  • If you receive a call from someone claiming you owe money, get as much information from them as possible and tell them you will call them back. Find the government agencies’ phone number through a trusted source, such as a phone book or official website and call the department back. Don’t trust the phone number or e-mail from the caller until you have verified that they are who they say they are.
  • Do not share any personal information with the caller; do not confirm your name, social insurance number, address and other identification.
  • The best protection from scammers is to learn how to resist being pushed into a decision regardless of how persuasive or aggressive the scammer may be.

Arm yourself and the vulnerable people in your life by learning how to recognize and protect yourself from fraud at Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre.

Information is available online at www.antifraudcentre.ca and http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html.

Please report any attempts of this kind to the Anti-Fraud Centre by phone at (1-888) 495-8501.

Anyone with information about such fraudulent activities is requested to please contact High Prairie RCMP by phone at (780) 523-3370 or other local police.

For those who wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at (1-800) 222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com (http://www.p3tips.com/) or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.

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