You know, I thought long and hard about whether to do a post about this, because I, like everyone else out there, fear the CRA Auditor (for non-Canadian readers, the CRA is the equivalent of the IRS down in the USA).
Nothing against you, oh mighty and powerful CRA Auditor... You're cool. Really. No, really. Please. I'm sorry...
I'm just saying that everyone has a fear of the CRA Auditor. I mean, who doesn't start to sweat when you get an envelope in the mail from the CRA?
Anyway, news came out today about another reason you should fear the CRA Auditor and pretty much any other worker at the Tax Agency, and this isn't just related to you being audited.
Apparently, Canadian Tax Agency workers have been "snooping" on tax payers' records and private tax data for their own personal use, including on ex-spouses which is the majority, and also on family, friends, colleagues, ex-employers, competitors and etc. In some cases, they're taking your personal data and burning it onto CDs so they can take it home and use it for their own side-business purposes...
Here's the story from the Toronto Star:
Tax workers use government computers to snoop on ex-spouses, family members
OTTAWA—Dozens of workers at Canada’s tax agency have been caught snooping on their ex-spouses, mothers-in-law, creditors and others by reading confidential tax files.
Internal reports at the Canada Revenue Agency show that rogue employees are improperly reviewing the private financial affairs of taxpayers without their knowledge.
And some are using agency computers to give favoured treatment to colleagues, friends, family — and themselves.
In one egregious breach last October, a woman accessed 37,500 emails and 776 documents containing confidential financial information about ordinary Canadians. She downloaded the files onto 17 compact discs for her personal use, inexplicably helped by agency technicians.
In one case, a worker secretly operated a business on the side with her spouse, and between 2004 and 2009 “accessed the accounts of two creditors and the spouse of one of those creditors.”
A woman in one unidentified office poked into the agency’s data looking for confidential information on colleagues, friends and family — apparently to give them a break on their taxes.
“She accessed her own tax information and the tax information (of) 13 relatives.... She provided preferential treatment to colleagues, relatives and acquaintances.”
Agency records for 2008-2009 show there were 29 cases in which workers were caught accessing taxpayer records without authorization, about the annual average for the last five years. And there were a dozen instances in 2008-2009 in which tax records were improperly disclosed to third parties.
Pretty crazy, eh?
Helping out people you know, ok, to tell you the truth, I figured they were doing that already. You know, in the way like, "can you take a look at my file and give me some tips"... But to go in there and make actual changes to help people, or even worse, to go in there and steal the info and use it against people to make money, that's almost scary.
Again, no offence CRA workers, you're all cool (well, 99.9% of you).
But damn, if this isn't another reason to fear anyone who works for the tax agency, you know...
PS: To all readers who work for the CRA, let's just forget that this post even happened...
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