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Tax scammers leverage every means at their disposal to separate you from your cash — notices and offers in your inbox, on websites, over the phone or in a text message.

There is more at risk than your money and identity this tax season. Scammers may offer “tax services” that will steal your identity and your tax refund, lure you with offers of bigger write-offs, create fake websites and tax forms to fool you into giving criminals your personal or financial information.

Here are seven ways to stay safe this tax season:

  • Don’t open files, click links, or call numbers in unsolicited emails, text messages, IMs, Facebook postings, tweets, etc. — especially if you weren’t expecting them.
  • Beware of impersonators. Many Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonators use scare tactics to intimidate people into complying with their requests, like threatening to arrest or deport the potential victim.
  • Before sharing any information, take the time to verify the identity of the person asking you for information, money, or access to your accounts, to ensure they are who they claim to be.
  • If you can’t verify something is legitimate, ignore, delete it, or contact the person/organization who supposedly sent it to validate that the message really is from them.
  • Never – ever – ever – reveal your password, PINs or any personal or financial information.
  • Don’t respond to scare tactics. Contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – directly to verify phone calls, electronic or paper messages.
  • Be suspicious if the “agent” demands immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, Western Union, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes or Amazon.

Remember: The CRA or the IRS will never ask you for personal/confidential information over the phone, through an email or in a text message.

Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre if you believe your personal information has been stolen and used for tax purposes.

Visit the RBC Cyber Security website to learn more about how to protect yourself online.