Dealing with Fraudulent Phone Calls

Fraudsters are getting smart and finding new ways to scare people and extort money out of them. We just need to be smarter.

The technology that is being used is sophisticated and advanced. Phone masking is now being used to make phone calls. This technology allows the fraudsters to call and make it look like a call is being made from a number that you know. They are also well researched and have gained enough information to make the call look legitimate

Recently there have been instances where Softron clients have been called by fraudsters and it looked like on their caller ID that the phone call was from a Softron Office.

Here are a few attributes of fraudulent phone calls:

  • It may appear a call from a business like Softron, a government office like CRA or RCMP or even a family member or friend
  • Phone call will always be about how you are in default or deep legal trouble.
  • Fraudsters try to intimidate by threatening arrests and using strong language.
  • The solution always is immediate payment of money.
  • The mode of payment offered is prepaid credit cards, online payment systems like paypal or even dropping cash in some scenarios.

Demanding payments through credit card or paypal is a clear red flag. The following are a few facts that you need to remember:

  • Softron, CRA or no other organization will ever call you and threaten you with an arrest.
  • No legitimate organization demands payments through pre-paid credits cards
  • All owings or payments are always demanded through written notices and letters.
  • We at Softron may only contact our clients via phone regarding an on-going tax filing service we are providing or general messages about the launch of new tax or location details.

What can you do if you receive a phone call:

  • Hang up
  • If you are sure that it was a fraudulent phone call, report it at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
  • If you are not sure about whether the call was fraudulent or not, hang up and call back the organization you received the call from. This will protect you against a fraudulent call using phone masking technology.
  • Softron can be contacted at 905-273-4444
  • CRA can be contacted at 1800-959-8281

Scam Alert !! Avoid the tax scam !!

THE RCMP has issued a number of alerts in the past year and the Canada Revenue Agency has also reported hundreds of cases where scammers have called tax payers in Canada and pressurized them using coercive language and threatening jail time to make unnecessary and bogus payments.

What you should know?

  • The CRA never asks for your personal information such as passport, driver’s license or any other personal information
  • The CRA is a professional organization and any employee at CRA is not allowed to use abusive language, scream or issue threats.
  • The CRA does not accept payments from Gift Cards or Pre-paid Credit Cards. Such request should leave no doubt in your mind that the caller on the other side is trying to scam you
  • Tax Consultants such as Softron Tax do not disclose any information to third parties, pretend to be representing CRA or collect any money on behalf of CRA

What you should do?

If you receive any phone call, email or letter that asks you to make an immediate payment to the CRA, you should take the following steps:

  • Contact Us: You can visit one of our offices or call us at 905-273-4444. To find your nearest office visit: www.softrontax.com/locations. Please do not hesitate to visit us even if you are not a regular Softron client. We will be happy to help.
  • Do not Engage: If you are contacted by phone, you should not engage in any conversation by giving out information. If you are being threatened or screamed at, please hang up immediately. If you decide to talk to the caller, ask questions that will verify their genuineness. It is appropriate to ask a CRA representative about their name, office location and phone number. You can defer the situation by telling the caller that your taxes are handled by your professional representative and he would be in touch with the CRA. You can ask for their contact information to call back.
  • Report: You can report the incident to the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281 or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-800-495-8501

Watch the video below to learn more:

The Deadline Cometh… Honest!

We’ve written blog posts before on the tax deadline and how to deal with it, but the major item in the news of late is this new Heartbleed bug and the fact that CRA shut down all their electronic services as a precautionary measure against it. We know what you’re thinking. First, exactly what is this thing and how vulnerable am I, and secondly, it’s practically the end of April and I have to file my taxes, what the heck am I supposed to do?

To begin with, the Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).

The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

Death © 2014 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Not intended to imply any endorsement by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

So this bug has actually been around for about two years, and it’s potentially a huge problem since attacks leave no traces. While many sites were not in fact vulnerable to the attack (especially those not using OpenSSL) several major sites were including Google, so Gmail users out there should definitely change your passwords…

Incidentally, TaxTron and Softron’s websites were not vulnerable to the bug. As well, none of your credit card information is stored by our websites.

The good news is that CRA has brought their systems back up and electronic services have resumed. Taxpayers and the CRA have certainty on the filing of returns through a confirmation code that is issued only upon successful transmission. If you did receive a code, your return was successfully filed. You can also check the status of your return on My Account.

For the individual filers out there, the situation has changed somewhat. While the tax deadline hasn’t actually changed, the Minister of National Revenue has announced that interest and penalties will not be applied to individual taxpayers filing their 2013 tax returns after April 30, 2014 for a period equal to the length of this service interruption. This means individual tax returns for 2013 filed by May 5, 2014 will not incur interest or penalties.

For more information and to check your favourite sites for vulnerability to the Heartbleed bug, check out https://lastpass.com/heartbleed/

Voluntary Disclosure – Telling the Taxman Before It’s Too Late!

As we get close to the holiday season, things always seem to get more hectic. Of course, most of us find life pretty hectic already. Juggling a job, spouse, kids, medical issues, money, etc. can be very stressful. And in all of that it’s easy to forget things from time to time. Then there are the times when we remember things just fine, but are unsure how to proceed because we’re not sure what to do.

So it’s easy to forget a source of income or leave it off because we’re not sure if we are supposed to claim it or not. Does that money you got from your late Uncle George count as income, anyway? (more…)

What’s Coming Up…

As we continue our income tax preparation services to help file returns for taxpayers and companies alike, (no off-season for us here…) we just wanted to take a moment to give you some info on upcoming changes from CRA, fresh from their Software Conference.

Extended Filing Window

At the same time, CRA extended the filing window to the end of November from September. Well next year starting in February, our Softron tax professionals will be able to electronically file your returns year-round, and CRA has said the average taxpayer will be able to do the same through NETFILE starting in 2014!

New Tax Filers

Traditionally, young people born in Canada filing their first return has to send their returns by paper, and CRA changed that last year with the ability to electronically file their first return.

That was great for the students out there, but newcomers to Canada were still forced to send their returns the old fashioned way, with the processing delay that entailed and everything.

Well now as of 2013, immigrants to Canada will be able to electronically file their returns as well. Tax professionals will also be able to EFILE an immigrant’s T1013 form along with their T1013 form.

With the additional initiatives of E-Payments, E-Delivery, and E-Documents, you’ll soon be able to pay directly online. CRA will be able to send you documents through a secure portal online, and you’ll be able to send them info the same way, for example when they’re looking for additional information from you like medical receipts, etc. CRA wants to have everything handled securely and electronically, making it faster for everyone. These changes are just a few steps in that direction.

There’s even more to tell, but that’s for another time.