The banks in Canada take the issue of fraud and cybersecurity very seriously and they are working around the clock to protect you. There are also simple steps that you can take to better recognize fraud and protect yourself. Here are some tips on the more common types of scams.

What You Need to Know:

  • Banks are leaders in Canada in cybersecurity and have invested heavily in cybersecurity to protect the financial system and the personal information of their customers from cyber threats.
  • While banks work hard to prevent fraud, there are simple steps that you can take to protect yourself.
  • If you are a victim of fraud, your bank will launch an investigation and, in many cases, you will be reimbursed for any money that was stolen.

Protecting Yourself Online

Online banking is very popular with Canadians – in fact, more than three-quarters of us use online banking to do our transactions because it’s easy, convenient and secure. There are simple steps that customers can take to protect themselves while online.

Protect Your Computer and Mobile Devices

  • Protect your devices against malicious software by installing anti-virus, anti-spyware and Internet firewall tools on all your devices. Make sure that you keep these programs active and updated to keep your information protected.
  • Be cautious when using free public WiFi to conduct financial transactions. Criminals may be able to access your information.
  • Only download banking apps directly from your bank or a reputable app store that your bank directs you to. Criminals are able to create legitimate looking banking apps that can steal your personal and financial information.
  • Always make sure when conducting financial transactions that the web address starts with https:// - “s” standing for secure - or make sure there is a closed padlock in the bottom right hand corner of your browser.
  • Choose secure passwords. Don’t use the same passwords for online banking that you use to log in to other websites. Always choose a unique password for all online banking and credit card accounts. And make sure to change your passwords regularly as an added level of protection from criminals.

Fraudulent Emails

Email fraud — sometimes called “phishing”— uses fraudulent email messages and websites that look like they are from a legitimate organization, such as a bank, credit card company, online retailer or government agency. The email you receive may look real, with company logos and branding, but you may have actually received this spam or mass email from a criminal.

Here are some simple steps that consumers can take to protect themselves:

  • Be skeptical. Fraudulent emails can look like they come from a real bank email address. If you have any doubts about whether an email is from your bank or a reputable organization, contact them before responding to ensure that it is legitimate.
  • Never send or confirm your personal or financial information by email.
  • Always enter your bank’s website using the website address (URL) that you know is accurate. Contact your bank to get the correct website address if you’re unsure.
  • Check the domain name shown as the link in the email. When you click the link, if it does not match the name that appears in the browser at the top of the screen, then it may be a fraudulent website.
  • Regularly review your bank and credit card statements to ensure that all transactions were made by you.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year by contacting credit reporting agencies Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada.



Credit Card Fraud

Banks and credit card companies take significant steps to protect customers and minimize fraud as much as possible. For example, did you know that:

  • Banks’ systems can automatically detect unusual activity in a customer’s account? This means that steps can be taken to prevent fraud from occurring.
  • Visa, MasterCard and American Express have zero liability policies in the case of unauthorized transactions? This means if you are a victim of fraud, you won’t be held responsible.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself, including:

  • Report a lost or stolen card as soon as you notice it is gone.
  • Regularly check your transactions online or on your monthly statement. If there are any charges that you didn’t make, report them to your card issuer right away.
  • Never give out your card number over the phone or online unless you know you are dealing with a reputable company.
  • Scammers will try to trick people into revealing information about their credit cards either over the phone or through email. It’s important to know that your bank or credit card company would never call to ask for personal information like your credit card number, expiry date, PIN, or the security number on the back of your card.

“Tap to Pay” Cards

”Tap to pay” credit and debit cards allow you to pay for small purchases by tapping your card on a merchant’s payment terminal. Although there have been reports about electronic pick-pocketing, where a criminal with a card reader and computer can read the information on tap to pay cards and commit fraud, tap to pay remains a secure payment method. Tap card transactions are processed through the same secure networks used for all other credit and debit card transactions. It’s important to know that tap cards are embedded with multiple layers of security to protect you. For example:

  • Short range — The tap feature on debit and credit cards can only work within a short range of a payment terminal which makes it difficult for criminals to gain access to card information from a distance. Even if they could, the stolen card data cannot be used to create a counterfeit card.
  • Encryption — Each tap to pay transaction you make creates a unique encryption code, which expires after the transaction is finished. If someone was able to get close enough to steal data from your card, they would not be able to use the encryption code because it would have expired.
  • Limited information – Your name is not transmitted during a tap transaction. For Visa and MasterCard, the three-digit security code on the back of your card is also not transmitted.
  • Low transaction limits – Tap transactions generally have low limits and any larger purchase will require you to enter your PIN. If your card is lost, this will prevent large purchases from being made using the tap function.

Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Interac all have zero liability policies for credit and debit card holders, which means if you are a victim of fraud, you won’t have to pay.

 

The Canadian Bankers Association website has more information on how to safeguard your money at www.cba.ca.

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Questions?

If you have general questions about banking in Canada, call the Canadian Bankers Association’s Banking Information Line at 1-800-263-0231 or send an email to inform@cba.ca.

(Please note that if you believe that you have been a victim of fraud, you should contact the police and your bank immediately.)


More Information

The Canadian Bankers Association website has extensive information on fraud prevention

The CBA also distributes regular free fraud prevention tips by email. Sign up!