Identity thieves are more active during tax season than most other times of the year. Why? It is easier to scam people for money by making them believe they owe taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency. These scammers will call or email you claiming to be from the CRA and asking for payment via wire transfer or prepaid card to pay outstanding tax amounts. Unfortunately, people fall for this scam every year, and many other identity thefts occur as a result of information obtained from physical documents that are full of financial and personal details and identifiers. So how do you protect yourself during tax season?
First of all, don’t trust anyone claiming to be from the CRA. They won’t ever contact you by phone or email requesting information like PINs, SINs, passwords, or other personal information. They do not need access to your bank accounts and will never request payment over the phone. You should only trust official correspondence sent through the mail or to your CRA account directly.
Second, make sure you store and dispose of paperwork properly. Whether you file online or by mail, the physical documents you used to prepare your tax filing should never be thrown carelessly into the recycle bin. This goes for both individuals and businesses. For total control over your information and sensitive financials, you should shred all documents pertaining to your tax filing when you no longer need them.
Lastly, don’t dispose of sensitive documents related to your tax filing. Whether they be T4s from your employer or last year’s tax assessment, keep your private documents safe by storing them in a locked filing cabinet or safe. Another option is to choose online statements only to ensure that there are no physical copies of sensitive information lying around for identity thieves to find when dumpster diving.