Vancouver, BC – Tax season is here and BBB offers plenty of tips to help you find a trust tax preparer and to potentially avoid a couple of scams making the rounds in Canada.
“The CRA tax scam was still on our National Top 10 Scams list this year,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “The upside is we did see a drop in that scam, however it came back when the scammers contacted their victims offering to return their money for a fee.”
The CRA scam involved threatening phone calls at all hours demanding a tax repayment or you would be arrested or deported.
“The other good thing, is that according to BBB’s new Risk Index, fewer people are actually falling for tax scams this year even if they are approached,” adds Kelly. “Other scams we have seen are fake emails that look like they come from the CRA or other online tax return applications that actually redirect any government payments or steal information. These we need to be aware of.”
BBB offers these tip to find a trusted tax professional and to avoid getting scammed:
* Check on qualifications. Ask about their training, experience and knowledge of current tax law, and whether they are members of a professional organization with continuing education requirements and a code of ethics.
* Learn about their service terms in advance. Find out whether they guarantee the accuracy of their work and amend the return if there’s a mistake. And find out if they can be reached year round if there is a mistake or are required to undergo an audit, you want to make sure you can reach them after the tax season is complete.
* Ask for references. Get referrals from satisfied clients.
* Check with BBB. Visit www.bbb.org/mbc/ to determine if the tax preparer has a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.
* Request a quote. Ask for an estimate of the preparation fee before authorizing the work.
* Signature. Make certain the preparer has signed it and get a copy and payment receipt for your records. Also review the return before signing it and ask for clarification of any entries you don’t understand.
Each year new scams surface online, promising tax refunds and other incentives to get you to part with your personal information.
Be on the watch for the following tax scams:
* Phishing Scams. Never open or download attachments included with messages claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. Typically, these messages advise the recipient that they have qualified for a tax refund and need to click on a link to enter their information. The link takes the person to a bogus website and requires the visitor to enter personal identification. CRA will not contact you via email. Sometimes this is used to re-direct a direct deposit return.
* Identity Theft. If you’re doing your taxes on your own online, don’t use a public wireless connection. Even using the latest wireless security encryption standards such as WPA2 can be risky, so use a wired connection when dealing with sensitive financial and personal information.
* Malware. Refrain from opening any unsolicited tax-related email message, as some messages can exploit weaknesses in your browser and initiate a drive-by download of spyware or malware without your knowledge.
* The Canada Revenue Agency DOES NOT solicit personal information online or over the phone.