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OPINION: Who's on the other end?

The Henry Hype

I was working away at my desk one day when my phone rang. The caller ID said it was a Bonnyville number, so I picked up and said hello.

An automated voice told me it was the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) calling and they were going to arrest me for whatever reason. If I wanted to talk to an agent, I should click one, which I did. I asked the gentleman on the other end for his identification number and what department he worked in and asked him to repeat both when he said them too quickly for me to write down.

When that was done, I asked him if he knew that the CRA doesn’t make these sorts of calls because I figured that was important information for him to know. He told me they do and that I should Google it, to which I responded I already had and knew this was a fake call. Before he hung up, he informed me that even though I have a beautiful voice it didn’t give me a right to be rude to him. My laughter was the last thing he heard.

Since I moved to Alberta, I’ve received a number of hoax calls from different numbers claiming I would be arrested for any number of reasons and they all hang up rather quickly when I start asking questions.

I’ll admit it, every time I get these calls, my heart races and I wrack my brain for something that would warrant this. It’s terrifying and that’s why these scams work. They play on our fear and our desire to do the right thing.

While the CRA may call you, they won’t use threatening language or say you’ll be arrested. They also won’t demand immediate payment through prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers or asked for information on your driver’s license, passport, or health card.

They will ask you to confirm your identity through personal information such as your full name, date of birth, address and account, or social insurance number. This is actually one way I’ve figured out a scammer was calling me because they couldn’t give me any indication that they were looking at any of this instead of just blindly calling numbers in hopes of someone providing it all to them.

The CRA will also ask for details of your account in the event of a business inquiry and call you to begin an audit process.

If you have any worries or fears, go to the CRA’s website and call them to see if there’s anything to worry about.

Like Bonnyville RCMP Sgt. Kim Hillier said in a media update earlier this year, “the CRA and the RCMP do not send automated telephone messages advising people of warrants, Social Security Number breaches or overdue tax accounts! Do not give out personal financial information to anyone over the phone. Let the criminal fraudsters and scammers look for real jobs like the rest of us!”

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle