If you have ever had your credit card compromised, know that you are not alone. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, more than 42,000 Canadians were victims of fraud in 2020 and collectively lost $106 million.

Credit card scammers are evolving how they acquire credit card information. They can now obtain and use your credit card information without ever needing the physical card in hand. Here’s what you need to know about this type of fraud.

What is credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud is when someone steals your credit card, credit card information (including your credit card number), or your personal identification number (PIN) or other access codes to your credit card account such as an online password or personal authentication information and uses it without your authorization.

Fraudsters may use your information to make a purchase in a store, online, by phone or to take out money from your credit card account including an automated banking machine (ABM).

How does credit card fraud happen?

There are many ways a scammer can find and steal your credit card information, including:

  • Searching through your stuff. A fraudster may go through your garbage, recycling, or mail to find personal or credit card information.
  • Sending phishing emails or text messages. These messages look like they are from a legitimate company and ask for personal or credit card information.
  • Hacking into a company’s computer. A scammer can hack into a computer of a business to steal their customers’ credit card numbers or other personal information.
  • Credit card skimming. A card skimming device is attached over the credit card reader at certain locations such as an ABM, gas station or anywhere else you swipe your credit card. A skimmer is used to copy and store your credit card information.
  • Public Wi-Fi. Hackers will wait for people to reveal their credit card or personal information when using a public Wi-Fi connection.
  • Theft. It is still possible for someone to obtain your credit card information the old-fashioned way—by stealing your purse or wallet.

Find out how to recognize tricks from fraudsters and identify common scams

What to do if you have had your card compromised

If you have had your card compromised (ex. lost or stolen), or suspect that it might have been, there are several steps you should take to help protect yourself.

Recognize and Reject it

Write down the details of what happened to you while it is fresh in your mind. Where do you think your card was compromised? On what day? What tipped you off to the possible fraud? This information will help investigators when you report your case.

You might also be able to lock your card right away by contacting your card issuer. If you are a Scotiabank customer, you can lock and unlock your credit card using the mobile app. Learn how here.

Report it

Report it to your credit card issuer right away

Call your credit card issuer immediately and report the possible fraud. Your credit card company can help to determine if there was any fraudulent activity and can cancel your card if necessary or at least block it for you. Find out more about how Scotiabank can help you below. 

Consider reporting it to law enforcement

You should consider reporting fraud to the appropriate law enforcement officials allows them to gather the information they need to stop the fraudsters and prevent others from becoming involved in the same scams. Unfortunately, less than 5% of the total number of Canadians who experience fraud report it to law enforcement agencies.

You can also report an instance of fraud to the following groups:

  • Credit bureau. Contact Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada to inform them of the fraud. When you speak with them, request that they place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert requests that lenders contact you to confirm your identity before approving any credit applications.
  • Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is a central agency that is responsible for collecting information on fraud and identity theft. 

Reporting fraud to Scotiabank

For lost or stolen Scotiabank credit cards, call us at 1-800-472-6842 ( 1-800-645-0288 for TTY service). That includes any actual or suspected loss, theft or unauthorized use of, or unauthorized access to, your credit card account, password, PIN or card (or account number) or any personal authentication information relating to your credit card account.

If you ever encounter a suspicious email, website, or unsolicited pop-up that claims to be affiliated with Scotiabank, please report it immediately. Scotiabank will never send you an unsolicited email or text message asking for your password, PIN, credit card, or account numbers. The bank will also never ask to restore your account access through an unsolicited email. Do not respond to any unsolicited email or website that asks for your personal information.

For more information on how to report a possible online scam, click here. For more information on how to report any kind of issue related to your Scotiabank account, click here or call 1-800-813-6602.

Visit our Security Centre to learn more about financial fraud

At Scotia, we offer an online security guarantee. This means you will be fully reimbursed if you suffer direct financial losses due to unauthorized activities in one of your accounts through Scotiabank OnLine or our mobile app, provided that you have met your security responsibilities. Click here for more information.

Tips to prevent credit card fraud

There are many simple things you can do to help make sure you avoid credit card fraud, including:

  • Shred personal information. Never throw away or recycle intact documents that contain personal or credit card information.
  • Sign up for eStatementsOpt for virtual statements instead of paper ones to reduce the risk of your documents being stolen from your mailbox, garbage, or recycling bin.
  • Install VPN. Install and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your computer or mobile device as an added layer of protection—especially if you will be using, or often use, a public Wi-Fi network. A VPN creates a private network from a public internet connection, providing privacy and anonymity.
  • Protect your PIN. Keep your credit card PIN, debit card PIN, and online passwords secret. Choose a PIN that is not linked to personal information and change it often. Remember to never share or otherwise disclose your PINs or other passwords with any person.
  • Be careful of email and text messages. If you get an email or text message from an unknown sender, don't open it and definitely don't click on any links.
  • Monitor your credit report. Regular monitoring of your credit report can help to catch any unauthorized activity quickly.
  • Check your statements. Checking your monthly credit card statements is another way to quickly identify any unauthorized purchases.

By following the tips laid out here to help protect yourself so that you can enjoy the convenience and benefits of your credit cards safely.

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