person typing on computer

How to protect yourself online

March is Fraud Prevention Month, an annual public awareness campaign aimed at helping Canadians protect their money from frauds and scams. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, in 2022, Canadians lost more than $500 million in scams that preyed on vulnerable people.

Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods of exploiting money from people, and it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s real and what’s fake. In some instances, people can be scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars – oftentimes their life savings – putting them in a difficult financial position.

Improving your financial literacy skills is the best way to protect yourself from online financial fraud.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself from being scammed:

  • Never give out your Social Insurance Number (SIN) to anyone other than the government, your bank or your employer.
  • Shred all documents containing personal information after using them. 
  • Regularly monitor your credit report for errors, which can negatively affect your credit score. You have a right to report the error and dispute it with the credit reporting agency. 
  • Use a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that’s hard to guess. If your PIN is too simple, people might guess it, and if they guess right, they can steal your money and your personal information.
  • Only use your bank’s official website and app for e-banking. Don’t ever do online banking on a public computer – use only your own personal private computer if you have one, or your personal mobile device.
  • Don’t tell anyone your banking PIN or username and passwords for your online accounts. 
  • Use strong passwords for all of your online accounts. A strong password has a mix of numbers, lowercase letters, capital letters and symbols.
  • Talk to someone you trust if you’re not sure. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if something is safe or unsafe. Try talking to someone you trust or someone at the bank about money safety.

For more tips on financial literacy and banking safety, check out our free financial literacy resources from our Money Matters program.