CTV News still covers the continued fake CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) telephone scam which so many Canadians have fallen for. A mechanical-sounding male voice advises that this is your final chance to clear up a matter before court action is instigated and offers a number to call for instructions on sending them money, lots of money. The scam is so sophisticated the number of one’s local RCMP detachment appears on the call display to make the call appear authentic. Once again, Canadians were told that the real CRA does not call you, does not leave messages and does not threaten court action. But people still fall for it.
From personal experience, the CRA initiates contact with a letter describing the problem with a contact number. This is the only federal department where a manager has told me, “ Firstly, I apologize for the idiot agent who gave you incorrect information . . .” A nice change.
CRA is bad enough. Then there’s Statistics Canada. It is now attempting to obtain personal information on 500,000 Canadians from banks and our PM is fine with it.
From personal experience, THIS is the agency that calls, leaves messages and threatens court action, although in recent years they have started with a letter warning they will be calling, when and why and that, by law, you are required to answer their questions. This gives a window of time in which not to answer any unfamiliar numbers.
We have been on Statscan’s call list for about 35 years, although their records only indicate 10. It started at our previous farm with June and December calls demanding livestock inventories, itemized by specific categories. It was never a “convenient” time in all those years.
On June 28, 1994 we moved the entire farm two miles down the road. On June 30 Statscan was looking for livestock figures despite the septic system backing up, soaking boxes and leaving the tap water suspiciously brown and smelly. My temper boiled over and, for once, they left us alone. Come December, they were back at it.
Then the calls started in May and November asking for our “best guesstimate” of livestock numbers the end of June and December. They didn’t understand not counting chickens before they hatch. They needed to get their figures out earlier to be more relevant. I guess accuracy doesn’t count in statistics.
The livestock survey gave way to crops and land use, all of which MUST total your acreage. Planting figures were always requested before we had finished – guesstimate they said, the same as yields.
I started refusing, telling them to pick on someone else. I accused them of targeting us but was told, “No, it is all random.” My responses are unprintable. They threatened. I gave nonsense figures, they accepted them. The long form census always arrived here with the ag one. I would get part way through, then give up. They wanted guesses, they got guesses: $10, $25.They never questioned it.
With call display and a phone that announces who is calling, we became adept at “missing” their calls. Messages got lost. If we made a mistake and answered, they threatened. They called at 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. And on and on, year after year.
This past spring we received three calls, all demanding and threatening. On the third call, I ranted and raved to a female voice. “Get someone else to do it. This is harassment.” And on and on. She started with, “It’s all random” but, by the end, she admitted it wasn’t.
We were selected when we started farming. They have been following us for close to 35 years. We have been lied to, threatened, harassed, called at all hours. Surely there must be a law against this? She agreed that I had obviously had my fill of Statscan and suggested I call their office in Ottawa for a “Request for Relief” form. Once filled out, returned, discussed by a panel and approved, we would no longer get calls from them. I refused. Enough is enough.
And now, so far, seven months, no more calls . . . yet.
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.