At Encompass Credit Union we offer tips on how to protect yourself from cyber threats. But what should you do when it does happen? The type of recourse depends on the type of cyber incident.
One of the most common scams in Canada is a phishing or smishing scam, where a scammer poses as a business or government organization. We almost all have had a call from someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. Sometimes the intended victim is told they owe a steep balance, and if they don’t pay, the RCMP will come to arrest them. Sometimes the intended victim is told they can “click on a link to accept your refund”. Some are simply told to follow a link to review changes to their information, or to fill out a form with their personal information.
If you are unsure if the message is legitimate, don’t respond! Visit the organization’s website and call them directly to verify the information you received. As most of us have received a fraudulent CRA messages demanding payment for taxes, the CRA provides the following advice:
- The CRA never asks for personal information via email or text,
- The CRA also does not request payments by bitcoin or gift cards.
Not to be glib, because this happens to people because of their high-pressure tactics, or the threat of being sent to jail, but what would the CRA do with gift cards? Or iTunes cards? Hand them out at, I can only imagine as “rockin'” CRA Christmas parties?
If you receive a call, text message, or email saying you owe money to the CRA, or are owed a refund or benefit payment, login or sign up for My Account or My Business Account to verify your tax status, or call CRA’s Individual Income Tax Enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281.
If you fall victim to a scam, there may be a number of steps to take:
- Report fraud to your local police.
- If your Social Insurance Number has been stolen, contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.
- Report a scam to the RCMP’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You will be asked to use a sign-in partner (i.e. your bank) or a GCKey (just as you do to access your CRA account). This ensures your own security when reporting scams. You can call the Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
Scammers use similar tactics when pretend to represent a bank or credit card company. You have receive an email or text from a bank you do not deal with asking you to review your statement. It’s easy to recognize phishing or smishing when the message doesn’t come from your own bank. But, if you’re concerned that it could be from your bank, don’t respond to the message–reach out to the bank directly or log in to your online banking site or app (using a secure internet connection, of course) to verify if it’s real. And don’t forget to report the phishing/smishing message to your bank.
For more information on other cyber incidents and reporting, visit the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.