Email and Phone Identity Theft Scam Hits Newfoundland & Labrador

2 June 2015

A new identity theft scam swept through Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this month, prompting the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) to issue warnings to residents. The scam reportedly involved someone pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reaching out to members of the public either through email or over the phone, asking for the person to submit certain pieces of personal information like their bank account, credit card or passport numbers.

According to CBC News, perpetrators of this scam would either call or email their would-be victims, telling them that “the CRA has calculated your fiscal activity and determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund.” The scammers would then either directly ask the recipient for personal data like bank account, credit card and passport numbers or would instead link them to a website — one designed to look similar to the actual CRA site — where they would be prompted to enter their information into a fabricated refund form, which they could mail to a given address.

Needless to say, these emails and phone calls were not from the actual CRA, causing the RNC to alert residents not to give out personal information to anyone claiming to be from the national agency. In the event you receive an email from these fraudsters, the RNC also warns not to click on any links provided, as the fake CRA website could potentially contain malware that may infect your computer. Even if you don’t enter any personal information into the site, automatically downloaded malware could simply do the job for them.

If you live in the area and received a similar call or email from a purported CRA representative, the RNC urges you not to give them any information, and instead report the case to the police or Crime Stoppers.

Unfortunately scams like these are all too common throughout Canada, and becoming more and more frequent. While government agencies like the CRA would never ask for sensitive personal information in such a haphazard way, many Canadians simply don’t know that. As a result, people across the country are finding themselves increasingly victimized by identity thieves, who then use personal data like credit card numbers and bank account information to open new lines of credit in their victims’ names. The thieves then rack up staggering levels of debt to satisfy their own purchasing needs while simultaneously draining their victim’s savings and tarnishing their credit history.

Identity theft and credit card fraud can be incredibly damaging crimes, the after effects of which can take years to be resolved. If you believe you may have crossed paths with a possible identity thief, whether it involved this scam or another, take the following steps:

  • Contact the two main credit reporting bureaus to request a copy of your credit report. You may also want to discuss the necessity of placing a fraud alert on your credit files.
  • File a report with your local police department.
  • Report the fraud to your bank and credit card companies. They will help you cancel accounts and set up new ones. The longer you leave a potentially defrauded credit line open, the bigger the potential for damage to your credit and your good name.
  • To become more proactive in heading off potential identity thieves, consider investing in a credit monitoring service that can notify you to help you identify possible fraudulent activity that appears on your credit file.