It’s always scam season

Fraud & Identity Theft
1 November, 2017

Think twice, ask questions and investigate before responding to an email or phone request. Never give out your credit card number over the phone or on an unknown website.

After more than 40 years as an accountant and advisor, I am not amazed when someone tells me that they “think” they have been scammed. When I hear those words, in my experience, there actually was a scam.

Scammers take advantage of our vulnerability and naivety, our willingness to help someone we know solve a problem, or the temptation to just get rich quick. And if it’s in an email or on the Internet, it must be true.

If you, or someone you know, hasn’t already heard about or been contacted to participate in these favourites, you soon will:

1. CRA calls about an outstanding tax balance. To pay it off, you are told to purchase iTunes gift cards and call back with the card numbers. “Really?” What is CRA going to do with iTunes gift cards? But the recipient of those numbers can resell them to access iTunes. If you get a call, contact CRA to verify everything.

2. Your “bank” sends you a message that your account has been compromised and you need to login to change your password. When you follow the link supplied, you are asked to enter all your current login information. If you get one of these messages, call your bank first. But do not use the phone number in the message you received.

3. Have you ever been given the golden opportunity to be listed in, or renew your listing in, an industry directory? You might want to do this, but have you checked out the existence of the directory? These “opportunities” are usually sent to the company’s accounts payable department where they are likely to flow through the system. Generally, the amounts are not large enough to draw attention. Alert everyone in your organization of these scams. Post samples on a bulletin board, even if you have been a victim.

4. A bill for outstanding amounts for office supplies has become a favourite. The last one I saw was from a fictitious company that even had a website and an HST/GST number. But when I checked with CRA, the number wasn’t valid.

These are just a few examples of the smaller scams I have come across. So next time something seems even slightly fishy, remember: it’s always scam season.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Alberta, CPA Education Foundation or CPA Canada.

Written by: Stan Swartz, CPA, CMA, CFP, CMC

Sourced from: CPA Canada