The B.C. RCMP has declared March fraud prevention month and on that note, the Citizen is running a series of stories on the various types of fraud that can be encountered and how to protect yourself against them:
It's tax time once again and scam artists are out to prey on people during what can be a stressful and confusing time of year.
Both the RCMP and Canada Revenue Agency are warning taxpayers to beware of a phone call, letter or e-mail purported to be from CRA but is actually a fraudulent attempt to gain personal information.
The message, often on official-looking letterhead, will say there is unclaimed money from the CRA and all the recipient needs to do is provide certain information so the file can be "updated" and the monies released.
The information requested can include social insurance, credit card, bank account, and passport numbers and the sender asks for the information to be e-mailed or faxed to a provided number.
The request may sound reasonable but RCMP and CRA say it's really an attempt to gain identity and banking information, so accounts can be accessed through false pretenses.
What's more, the CRA says it will not request personal information of any kind from a taxpayer by e-mail.
CRA officials will occasionally leave messages on taxpayers' answering machines along with a request to have social insurance numbers available upon callback, but they will not leave any personal information on an answering machine.
To verify the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, check the telephone numbers page on the CRA's website, www.cra-arc.gc.ca.
Examples of the fraudulent letters, emails and online refund forms can also be found on the CRA website.
Those who suspect they have responded to a fraudulent communication can contact the RCMP's anti-fraud centre by email at i...@antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501.