Protect Yourself from Financial Fraud

May 2, 2016 | Christina

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Credit Cards                                          (Photo Credit:

If using credit cards or debit cards to buy items or pay bills, it is important to be aware of the risks related to electronic forms of payment. In the past, credit or debit card information was copied and counterfeit cards were produced. Today, new electronic chips have reduced counterfeit card transactions because fraudsters cannot yet "mount encrypted microchips on fake cards", according to Lorraine Young's article Protect Your Pocketbook

Presently, there are different types of financial fraud. Fraudsters use stolen information to make purchases online or over the telephone. A picture of a credit card provides a name, card number, expiry date and security number; "enough to make electronic payment for goods or services that can be delivered to any address."

David Schurman, COO at FirstOntario Credit Union, advises "Don't let your credit card out of your sight. If a waiter or gas attendant asks for your card go with them and tell them that they don't need it unless you're there." Payment methods can be set up to happen beside the consumer. The card doesn't need to leave your hand.

Credit cards are not the only method of financial fraud. Online, letter based and telephone scams are rising. In 2014, mass market frauds (contacts that seem personal but are sent to several people at the same time) generated over 40,000 complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Approximately 15,000 victims lost more than $70 million.

Here are some tips from Young's article on how to protect yourself from financial fraud:

  • Protect your personal and financial information.
  • Do not give any details regarding your electronic financial resources to anyone without verification.
  • Clear your mail regularly and shred paper that contains personal information.
  • Protect your PIN at all times.
  • Review your account statements. Small unfamiliar transactions may be indications of bigger problems.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi for banking or financial transactions. Public Wi-Fi is not as private as home-based secure networks.
  • Do not assume links or phone numbers in messages requesting information are legitimate. Check them against your account record or look them up to validate them.
  • Contact the bank or vendor directly before sharing any information.
  • If you shop or bank online, make sure the site is secure; i.e. symbolized by the "s" in the "https://" of the address, or by a closed padlock or similar icon.  See your browser for details.
  • Keep your security software up-to-date.

For more information regarding fraud types, how to protect yourself and/or how to report an incident, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (formerly known as PhoneBusters).  

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on such matters as mass marketing fraud (i.e. telemarketing), advance fee fraud (i.e. many West African letters), internet fraud and identification theft complaints.   

To learn more, go to one of the Toronto Public Library's programs that discusses scams:

In addition, check out the following, recent titles on the topic at the Toronto Public Library:

Swiped Virtual Unreality Spam Nation
Swiped Virtual Unreality Spam Nation