Canada Revenue Agency criticised for handling of lockout of taxpayers accounts that may have been compromised
When the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) discovered that some taxpayers’ accounts may have been compromised, it locked them down, but failed to effectively communicate what was happening.
The 2021 event is at the centre of a new report from the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson called ‘The Lockout: Communication Was the Key.’
It determines that the CRA should have provided clear and timely information to taxpayers who were understandably confused, worried, and frustrated.
This should have been a priority after safeguarding the accounts of those that may have been affected.
"Being transparent with Canadians is incredibly important. When affected CRA account users were locked out, the CRA should have been ready with a clear and useful communication strategy so worried and frustrated Canadians would not have needed to call the CRA. Situations like this should not happen in the future," commented François Boileau, Taxpayers' Ombudsperson.
5 ways to improve
The report includes five recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Chair of the CRA's Board of Management:
- The CRA should review its communications processes to make sure it proactively inform Canadians about issues that could affect them.
- The CRA should ensure its web page alerts always provide current information.
- The CRA should ensure that it always provides a link for more information to a Government of Canada web page from its social media posts.
- The CRA should make the information it provides to media outlets available to Canadians at the same time.
- The CRA should make sure it has adaptable plans to communicate emerging issues effectively.
The full report is available on the Canada.ca website.