Ron Clarke is a Trail Times columnist.

Ron Clarke is a Trail Times columnist.

COVID-19: The Spread of Scams

At the best of times, scams seeking your personal information and cash, run rampant.

At the best of times, scams seeking your personal information and cash, run rampant.

Add tax time to the picture, and the scams ramp up.

And if that isn’t enough, add a multitude of new government benefits as relief measures for a pandemic plus organizations needing funding or businesses selling goods and services, and, well, the scams multiply as fast as the viral virus does.

Scammers use the internet, social media, email, text, phone, and Canada Post. Here are some best practice tips to navigate the unsolicited communications you receive.

Since it is tax time, specific to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), you will not be contacted via phone or email. Having said this, there are some particular exceptions.

First, if you have set up your CRA personal “My Account” or your “My Business Account” and committed to email communications, with emphasis on “committed” as in agreed to receive email communications from CRA, you will receive emails from CRA.

However, there are never direct links or attachments included in CRA emails. These emails only give direction for you to log into your CRA account regarding a message needing your attention.

Second, once you are handling a current situation with CRA, the ongoing contact with CRA may involve emails as noted above, and phone calls from CRA reps who will always identify themselves by rep number and office location.

When a CRA rep calls you, you will not be asked for your personal information.

It’s only when you call CRA directly that you are asked for your personal information.

Phishing through the internet and cell service is the act of broadcasting masquerading websites, links and messages in an attempt to have you supply your information, make a direct payment, or corrupt your software on your computer or phone.

To combat phishing, use a spam filter and firewall software, and keep it current since things change so fast. However, when you update this software, or any software for that matter, be sure you connect with the actual software supplier, and not a scammer.

As you ponder the message you have received, before you open, click or answer, look at the messaging for poor spelling, grammar, math and images. And don’t skim read. Actually read it word for word so you have a better chance of spotting errors.

Review the email address itself for oddities. By the way, hotmail and gmail are not used by governments, and remember, government messages have no links within the email and no documents attached.

As you consider the message on your computer or phone, or listen to the person on your phone, or read a mailer from your post box, don’t jump to the conclusion that whoever is contacting you is really who they say they are.

This applies to CRA and other government agencies, businesses, and even charities and not-for-profits. They are all subject to being impersonated by scammers to take advantage of you.

Be a critical thinker. If you are pressured to give money or personal information, if you are offered unbelievable deals on products and winning consultative expertise, if you are threatened with punitive actions if you don’t act, trust your instincts and stop.

Once you stop, and if you’re so inclined, go and do your own research.

If satisfied, then you initiate the contact.

City of TrailOpiniontaxes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Albert de Villiers, Chief Medical Health Officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
‘People need to start listening’: IH top doc combats COVID-19 misconceptions

Dr. Albert de Villiers says light at the end of the tunnel will grow in step with people’s adherence to PHO guidance

One death and 82 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

1,981 total cases, 609 are active and those individuals are on isolation

Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park, fall 2020. Photo: Submitted
Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park. fall 2020. Photo submitted
VIDEO: Kootenay youth climate group works to protect Nelson’s water supply

Youth Climate Corps members spent five weeks thinning forest in West Arm Park

Interior Health has set up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar doctors and mayor urge residents to take COVID-19 seriously as cases are confirmed in the city

“Your doctors would like you to understand we do now have Covid cases here”

Photo: Black Press file
Trail traffic stop yields stolen cheque investigation

Trail RCMP will continue enhanced impaired driving enforcement this holiday season

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
First long-term care resident dies from COVID-19 in Interior Health

Man in his 80s dies following virus outbreak at Mountainview Village

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Stock photo courtesy Cliff MacArthur/
Double-murder trial in case of Cranbrook couple killed adjourned until January

The trial was adjourned following an application from the defence related to COVID-19

Most Read