Financial Literacy Newsletter – March 2024

Protecting your finances in an increasingly digital world

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A few words from FCAC

Welcome to the Fraud Prevention Month (#FPM2024) issue of the Financial Literacy Newsletter. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this awareness campaign dedicated to helping Canadians recognize, reject and report fraud. To mark this important milestone, this year’s campaign theme is “20 years of fighting fraud: From then to now.”

Over the past 20 years, digital innovation has transformed the financial landscape. While these changes may have benefited you as a financial consumer, they have also provided fraudsters with new opportunities to steal your money. Emails that trick you into handing over your banking and credit card information (also called phishing), and fraud involving crypto-assets or AI were unheard of in 2004. Unfortunately, today they are common experiences for many Canadians.

The overall prevalence of fraud is another example of how times have changed. A recent survey conducted by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) about the financial well-being of Canadians found that 43% of respondents had been targeted by fraudsters. That’s up from 37% in 2022. Fraud is growing fast and can happen to anyone and everyone.

Visit FCAC’s survey findings on Canadians’ financial well-being.

While the financial landscape has changed significantly over the past 2 decades, the fundamentals of fraud prevention remain the same: staying informed and vigilant is still your best protection. This includes approaching emails and texts that ask for your financial information with deep skepticism. There are few occasions where you would ever need to provide financial information this way. Remember that banks will never ask for your personal information, login credentials or account information by email or text message.

Our goal this month is to provide you with the latest information and tools that will help you to protect your money from fraud in an increasingly digital world. In this issue, you’ll discover tips for preventing your online financial information from falling into the wrong hands and learn why you need to be careful and do your research before using a fintech app to help manage your finances. Our fraud prevention partners will shed light on the latest scams targeting financial consumers and the digital innovations that make these scams hard to resist.

Looking for a great way to start your reading? Take the “Test your knowledge of fraud” quiz and see if you have what it takes to recognize, reject and report today’s most common scams.

Help us spread the word. Share this newsletter with your network. Follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Happy reading!

Five proactive steps you can take to protect your financial information online

By: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

In today’s increasingly digital financial marketplace, fraudsters can use your online financial information to steal your money. In most cases, you will not be held responsible if your credit or debit card is used without your permission, but you have a key role to play in keeping your banking and credit card information safe.

Here are 5 proactive steps you can take to protect your financial information online:

Step #1: Create different and strong passwords for each of your financial accounts.

Your password is often your first line of defence against cyber criminals, which is why it’s so important to make sure they are secure. You can strengthen your passwords by:

Learn how to create strong passwords for your accounts.

Step #2: Enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible.

With multi-factor authentication (MFA), you need to provide multiple authentication factors to access a device or an account, like a fingerprint or a passcode. If cyber criminals gain access to one piece of information (e.g. your password), they still need to provide additional information to successfully access your accounts.

Learn more about MFA.

Step #3: Protect your PIN

Change your personal identification number (PIN) often. When you do, choose a PIN that is hard to guess. For example, avoid using your birthday, Social Insurance Number, address or telephone number as your PIN.

Never share your PIN with anyone, not even family members. If you share your PIN or other banking information you may lose the protection against unauthorized transactions offered by your financial institution.

Learn more about debit card fraud.

Online banking: know your rights and responsibilities.

Step #4: Protect your credit card information

Don’t give your credit card information over email as it isn’t secure. When you need to share personal information or buy something online, only use secure websites. Look for websites with addresses that start with “https” or with a padlock image in the address bar. Avoid using public computers at libraries or Internet cafés to do your banking or online shopping. If you must use a public computer, clear the history and cache of the computer when you finish using it.

Learn more about credit card fraud.

Step #5: Check your credit report for errors

Errors on your credit report may be a sign that someone is trying to steal your identity. When looking at your credit report, look for accounts that don't belong to you. Accounts that you don't recognize might mean that someone has applied for credit under your name. If you find an error on your credit report, contact the lender and any other organization affected by the error. Tell them about the potential fraud.

If it's fraud, you should:

Learn more about checking your credit report for fraud.

Learn how to report a fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Quiz: Test your knowledge of fraud

By: Competition Bureau Canada

The number of fraud schemes created by scammers hoping to part you from your money is endless. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to stay informed and alert. Take this quiz and see how up to date you are on the latest frauds and scams.

Test your knowledge of fraud.

Sharing your banking info with financial applications may leave you vulnerable to fraud

By: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Financial applications, also called fintech apps or fintechs, are used on a computer, mobile phone or tablet. Fintech apps are different from your bank’s online or mobile banking features. These apps offer personalized products and services, such as product comparison tools and budgetary tools.

What you may not realize is that using fintech apps may leave you vulnerable to fraud. It is important to understand how fintech apps work, so you can protect your finances in an increasingly digital world.

Who offers financial applications

Financial institutions or third-party providers create, manage and offer fintech apps. Typically, third-party apps offer additional financial products or services that are separate from the ones offered by your own financial institution and could include:

How financial applications work

To use a fintech app, you usually have to provide information about yourself or your finances. One of the most common methods fintech apps use to access financial data is called screen scraping. Fintech apps that use screen scraping require you to provide your online banking username and password to access your financial data. The fintech apps use this information to automatically log into your bank account as if they were you. They then transfer your data to an external database that supports their products and services.

Providing your banking or credit card information to a fintech app may break your financial institution’s account or online banking agreement. This means your financial institution may hold you responsible in the event of unauthorized transactions.

It’s your responsibility to keep your banking and credit card information safe and confidential. This will protect your personal information in the event of fraud or a data breach.

Learn more about how you're protected against unauthorized credit and debit transactions.

Protect yourself when using financial applications

Before you use a fintech app, make sure you understand how your personal and financial information may be used. If you're unsure whether or not to provide your personal banking information, ask your financial institution. If you still have doubts, don’t share your information.

Make sure you understand the potential consequences of using a fintech app. Those consequences could include data breaches on your username and password, fraud and more. Read the fintech app’s privacy and security policies.

Learn more about fintech apps.

It’s your responsibility to:

If you become a victim of fraud, contact the financial institution responsible for your accounts and report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Also notify Canada’s two credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, to place a fraud alert on your account.

Find out how to place a fraud alert on your account with Equifax.

Find out how to place a fraud alert on your account with TransUnion.

Learn how to report a fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

A few words from our collaborators

How banks are protecting Canadians from fraud

By: Canadian Bankers Association

Banks in Canada take fraud, cyber security and data protection very seriously, and are working around the clock to safeguard the money and personal information of their customers.

Safeguarding customer money and data is a fundamental priority for banks. Banks are recognized for their leading fraud prevention and cyber security practices and their strong investments in technology and security measures.

In the unlikely event of a breach of their security safeguards, where there is a real risk of significant harm, banks in Canada are obligated to notify the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, any impacted individuals, and any other organization or government institution that may be able to mitigate harm or reduce the risk of harm from the incident.

The financial system is part of Canada's critical infrastructure; as such, banks work closely with each other and with regulators, law enforcement and all levels of government to continuously share best practices and information to address the growing challenges of financial fraud and cyber crime.

Online fraud – protecting against cyber threats

Cyber crime is an increasing threat. The digitization of business and the growth of the "Internet of Things" creates new vulnerabilities, including cyber attacks and online forms of financial fraud.

Banks are leaders in Canada in cyber security and have invested heavily in cyber security to protect the financial system and the personal information of their customers from cyber threats.

Payment card fraud – how banks protect customers

As major participants in the financial system, banks understand that they have a role to play in ensuring that the Canadian banking and payments systems continue to operate efficiently and securely, and that their customers can make payments and do their banking with confidence.

Banks are constantly upgrading their security systems and procedures to stay ahead of criminals and working with other partners – including law enforcement, governments, and other payment partners – to educate customers, the public and merchants about how to prevent fraud.

When bank customers are the victims of payment card fraud, banks stand behind them with the applicable payment network’s zero liability fraud policies.

Guarding against financial abuse

Financial abuse occurs when someone tries to take or control assets that don’t belong to them for their own benefit. These assets can include money, property or personal information. The most common way this is done is through abuse of powers of attorney or inappropriate use of joint bank accounts.

Financial abuse is unethical and, in many cases, it is also illegal. The CBA has more information about how consumers can protect themselves from financial abuse, including information about powers of attorney and appropriate use of joint accounts on its website.

Read more about how customers can protect themselves.

AI voice and face cloning scams

By: Ontario Securities Commission

New generative Artificial intelligence (AI) can imitate anyone’s voice or appearance. And scammers are using that technology to fool people.

Imagine you pick up your phone. You are sure it’s your sister calling. The caller sounds exactly like her. She’s very excited about a new house she is about to buy. But she needs a little help with the down payment. She’s hoping you could transfer her some money and she’ll pay you back within the month. You’re happy for her. And you want to help. But before you do anything, try to verify that it’s actually her calling.

A deep fake is when AI is used to make you think what you’re seeing is real — when it’s not.

A woman contacted the Contact Centre at the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). She was convinced she had spoken to billionaire Elon Musk. She had watched a video online of Musk telling her about a great investment. She put her money into it, convinced she was dealing with a financial genius.

But it was all a scam. Likely due to a deep fake impersonation of Elon Musk.

AI can be used to create a video of anyone you know, including you. It may look exactly like them. Their mouth is moving, and the voice sounds like theirs. But it’s all an illusion. It means you can’t trust your eyes or your ears. So you need to be extra careful.

There are some simple ways you can protect yourself from AI voice scams and deep fakes.

First take a breath and pause. When people get a call about an emergency, they naturally get stressed and want to act fast. But take a moment and ask questions to verify who the caller is.

If someone says they’re your sister, ask a question only your sister would know the answer to.

Some families have a special word or phrase they share with each other. A word they can use to confirm the identity of family members when they call. For example, you might agree with your family to make your special word your grandma’s middle name. So if a family member calls, you would ask them for that name before sharing any personal details.

And never forget: When in doubt, hang up. And call the person back using a phone number you know is theirs.

Be on alert if you get a call, text or email that rushes you into making a decision — or asks you to share personal information.

Sometimes a family member truly needs help. Even then it’s wise to be cautious. It’s never easy to see a friend or family member struggling financially. But before you provide support read more about steps to offering a financial lifeline.

If you think that you may be a victim of investment fraud in Ontario, contact the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) at 1-877-785-1555 or You can also contact the OSC if you have any questions about investing or have a complaint about a company, an investment product, or the conduct of an advisor.

Subscribe to Investor News — the OSC’s popular e-newsletter that includes fraud prevention articles and links to tools featured on

Signs of debt relief scams

By: Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals and the Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy

Debt relief scams often target indebted consumers by falsely promising insolvency options like consumer proposals and bankruptcies. Some unlicensed debt advisory firms charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees for services they are not licensed to provide and often misrepresent the services they can offer. Watch out for these telltale signs.

  1. Unrealistic promises or pressure to make quick decisions. Unregulated debt advisors may make promises they can eliminate your debt, without understanding your financial situation. They may pressure you to make quick decisions without discussing all of your options.

Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) are the only debt-relief professionals in Canada legally required to offer a complete financial assessment and explain all the options for debt relief. Only after a thorough financial assessment of your personal financial situation will they offer specific advice about resolving financial difficulties. They are legally and ethically bound to provide accurate, unbiased debt advice and they are subject to ongoing oversight via regular reviews, audits and inspections to ensure standards of practice and adherence to the law including a comprehensive Code of Ethics.

  1. Asking for fees up front or claiming they can get you a “better deal”. Requesting payment before they meet with you or before delivering a service, is a red flag. They may make false claims they can “get a better deal” with your creditors or better serve your interests.

LITs generally offer free consultations, with no commitment and no up front fees, to give you a realistic picture of the debt relief options available for your situation. They are legally and ethically bound to play an impartial role in ensuring your rights, as well as those of the creditors. The fees charged by LITs for consumer insolvencies and bankruptcies are regulated by the federal government.

  1. Charging unnecessary fees disguised as “referral fees” or “administration fees”. They may charge money for services that are not necessary and do not provide debt relief, leaving you in a worse position financially. For example, they may claim they can grant you access to more debt-relief options through a referral to a LIT, sometimes for an additional fee.

If you have decided you need help with your debt, you should meet with a LIT first. You do not need a referral to speak with a LIT. Even if it is determined that the services offered by a LIT are not right for you, they may recommend non-insolvency options such as talking to your creditors, consolidating your debts, establishing and following a budget or entering into a Debt Management Plan (DMP). If needed, they can refer you to a reputable credit counselling agency, for example, to access DMP services. LITs do not charge fees for referrals.

  1. They tell you to stop communicating with, and/or paying your creditors or claim they can negotiate with them on your behalf. Some debt advisory companies may encourage you to cut ties with your creditors and claim they can be your “advocate” and negotiate on your behalf. Creditors are not legally bound to deal with them, so you may pay up front fees for this service even if they are unsuccessful in reducing your debt and then you end up further in debt.

LITs are the only federally regulated debt professionals with legal authority to negotiate binding agreements with creditors on your behalf. Only LITs can offer consumer proposals or bankruptcy services which legally require creditor actions, including collection calls and wage garnishments, to stop.

  1. They may only offer online services with no option for in-person service. Beware of debt advisory firms that only offer online services, that don’t have a legitimate address or a location in Canada, or that offer limited information about who they are on their website. If a debt advisory firm only operates online without any indication of in-person service availability within Canada or your province, it is wise to seek assistance elsewhere.

LITs are required to be licensed by the OSB and must provide in-person service at any point in the file, at your request.

Looking to find a Licensed Insolvency Trustee? The Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) and the Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) have map-based directories of LITs and LIT firms. Licensed Insolvency Trustee services are available across the country, even in remote locations.

Fraud targeting newcomers

By: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

When you are new to Canada, you may not be used to how companies or the government does business. As a resident, you have rights and freedoms protected by Canadian law.

Below are some common scams aimed at newcomers to Canada. Read them so you know what to do if you are targeted.

People posing as Government of Canada staff

What happens: A person poses as a government official on the telephone. They call people and try to scare them by saying they have done something wrong (like not filing proper paperwork) and that they owe fees. They may say the person can lose their immigration status or be deported if they do not pay right away. These people may even threaten someone’s family or home.

Things to remember

Immigration, Refugees and Citizen Canada (IRCC) will never:

Note: If you use caller ID, an agency’s phone number may appear real, but is not. Some scam artists use technology to fake the number, so this is not always proof that a caller is legitimate.

Learn how to report a suspicious call or email about your:

Fake emails

What happens: You may get an email trying to convince you to invest money or to give personal information or passwords related to your banking accounts.

What to do: Delete it. Legitimate investors don’t send bulk emails to people they do not know.

Watch out for emails from a stranger that direct you to a website that asks for personal information. Never give out personal information unless you know whom you are giving it to and that the website is secure.

If you get this kind of email, don’t click on any links or give any information about yourself. If you have any doubts about where the email came from, make sure to check the identity of the sender.

Fake computer virus

What happens: You may get a phone call or email saying that your computer has been infected with a virus. The caller or sender will offer to remove the virus from your computer. The person will try to get your computer passwords and other private information.

What to do: Never give access to your computer to someone you didn’t contact for help. You should only have your computer fixed at a professional shop or install anti-virus software bought from a trusted store.

Fake prizes

What happens: If you get a phone or text message that says you won something, but you did not enter a contest, it is probably a scam.

What to do: If you get a text message from a stranger, and it directs you to a form that asks you to enter any personal information, delete the text. Do not enter any information.

If the text tells you to text “STOP” or “NO” so you don’t get more texts, delete it. Do not reply. Scam artists do this to confirm they have a real phone number. Forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This will let your phone provider block future texts from those numbers. If you think your text message is real, check that the link it is sending you to is the correct website.

Learn more

What to do if you're a victim of fraud

By: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Learn about the actions to take after fraud.

Collect your thoughts

Stay calm. Gather all information about the fraud, including:

Contact your financial institution

Report the incident to the financial institution that transferred the money.

If you're a victim of identity fraud:

Find out how to place a fraud alert on your account with Equifax.

Find out how to place a fraud alert on your account with TransUnion.

Contact the police

Report the incident to your local police and get a file number for future reference. If you find suspicious activity on your credit report, update your file with the police.

Report the incident

Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System.

Depending on the type of fraud, or how it occurred, you'll also want to report it to other organizations.

Fraud that took place online through a website

Report the incident directly to the administrators of the website. You can do so through a link such as "Report Abuse" or "Report an Ad".

Learn more about actions to take after fraud.

What’s new

Campaigns and events

March is Fraud Prevention Month

This year’s theme, "20 years of fighting fraud: From then to now" will help Canadians recognize how fraud has evolved over the years, from telemarketing and mail to social media and artificial intelligence. Share your stories, experiences and useful tips online with hashtag #FPM2024.

Download Fraud Prevention Month promotional materials.

CPA podcast looks at the dark side of money

Join Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada podcast host Doretta Thompson during Fraud Prevention Month, as she delves into the dark side of money and provides tips and insights on how to protect yourself against fraud and other scams.

Listen to Mastering Money: The Dark Side of Money.

FCAC post-secondary student research paper competition 2024

The FCAC invites students to propose evidence-based, actionable solutions that can help Canadians build financial resilience in an increasingly digital world. This year’s competition will focus on the National Financial Literacy Strategy theme “Catalyze Action.” The deadline to submit papers is April 30, 2024.

Learn more about the 2024 Building Better Financial Futures Challenge.

In the news

Government announces Canada Carbon Rebate amounts for 2024–25

The Carbon Rebate returns fuel charge proceeds to Canadians through direct deposit or cheque, every 3 months.

Learn about the carbon rebate amount for you and your household.

Tips for filing your taxes in 2024

To simplify your tax-filing experience, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has compiled a list of things you need to know for this tax-filing season. This includes what’s new for income tax and the benefit return this year.

Learn more about what you need to know for the 2024 tax filing season.

Learning resources and tools

New FCAC webpage on artificial intelligence in banking

Learn the basics about artificial intelligence, the risks associated with it, and how it may be used in banking.

Visit Artificial intelligence in banking.

New FCAC webpage on choosing financial products and services

Financial institutions offer many types of products and services. Before you get a new product or service, make sure it meets your financial needs.

Visit Choosing financial products and services that are right for you.

Credit Counselling Society Learning Hub

The Credit Counselling Society (CCS) has launched its Learning Hub, a digital learning platform to help consumers expand their financial knowledge. These 5–10-minute courses are both free and interactive.

Visit the Learning Hub.

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