tax scamI just received a robo call from someone who identified himself as Officer Ryan Smith of the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA had detected fraud in my tax return, Smith said. He directed me to call an 855 number in order to rectify the situation. I knew right away this was a scam and didn’t call the number.

Instead, I went to the RCMP Scams and Fraud site and called Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre number cited at the bottom of the page. The Fraud line directed me to a CRA phone number. After clicking through several menus I talked with a CRA rep named Tenese. I told her about  the robo call and said Ryan Smith sounded East Indian.

Tenese pointed out that the ethnicity of a person has no bearing on scam cases.

“I agree,” I said. But if the scammer had called himself something like Khaled Hosseini (the talented, bestselling author of the Kite Runner) and had an Irish brogue, I would be equally suspicious.

Tenese then gave me the number of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre line. I explained that I had already called that exact number, and then she said I should call it. I explained again that I had already called that number, and then again she said I should call it.

Tenese was cordial, and I didn’t want to trouble her by endlessly explaining the endless Mobius telephone route. So I went to the CAFC site and tried its online scam reporting tool. It turned out that the tool would not accept reporting by an individual. So I plugged in my name as a business name, and I reported the scam.

As I await a response, I thought I should pass along Tenese’s advice: the CRA never makes calls like this but would send you a letter instead.

You should never call back to a number you’re given in any even slightly suspicious call. At the least, it will put you on a contact list to receive more and more scam calls. At the most you may be soaked out of many thousands of dollars.

Given the high percentage of seniors on the Coast who some may perceive as gullible, our community is a sure target for scammers. I will let you know if I hear back from the CRA. Meanwhile, keep up your anti-scam radar.