The RCMP recently reported that in 2022 alone, Canadians lost over $530 million to fraud. That’s a spectacular amount of money, and it marks a 41% increase in scam-related financial losses from the previous year. While seniors are a common target, fraud impacts individuals in all age groups and can lead to feelings of shame, frustration and mistrust as well as financial hardship.


In most cases, fraud is preventable—but you need to know how to spot it. Here are ten simple, straightforward ways to avoid fraud and stay safe from scammers. For additional information, please tips and resources, consider visiting the Government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe website. It includes this helpful glossary that can provide clarification on some of the tips detailed below. If you have any questions, please contact us! We’d be glad to discuss fraud prevention strategies and provide personalized, expert financial guidance.

Keep your personal information offline

Social media is wildly popular, but it comes with risks. Whether you’re using Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or another platform, keep your personal details private. Do not share your full name, birthday, details about your family or job, your address or even too much trivia-style knowledge about your preferences. For example, if you play along with a shareable Facebook post that asks you to use your birthdate, street name, mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet to come up with a funny result, you could be in trouble—these are details that scammers can use against you (or use to break into your accounts, in some cases). The bottom line: on the Internet, it’s always better to be mysterious than an over-sharer!

Use encrypted Internet access sources

Free wifi is great, but at what cost? An unencrypted Internet connection immediately puts you at risk for identity theft and other forms of fraud. If you’re accessing personal documents, communicating personal information by email or making purchases online, do it from the comfort of your own home with a secure, encrypted connection. Avoid doing these activities in coffee shops, schools, libraries or other public spaces. Not only could your personal data be intercepted—so could your credit card number. (On that note: never save your credit card number on a retailer’s website! If they get hacked, your card and personal data can be compromised.)

Install antivirus software

This isn’t new guidance, but it continues to be important. Ensure that you’re using up-to-date, reputable antivirus software on your personal computer. It’s an easy layer of protection for your whole family!

Choose your passwords wisely

Passwords should never be easy to guess, and they should never stay the same for more than three to six months. Choose a combination of letters, numbers and characters that is unique and difficult to guess. Use a different password for each account you use, even if they’re variations of the same word or phrase. This may go without saying, but don’t share your password with anyone! If you’re prone to forgetting your login information, consider using a password keeper.

Set up two factor authentication

Two factor authentication (or two factor verification) is a simple, effective way to add another layer of security to your data. It works by requiring a secondary personal verification checkpoint before letting you into your accounts (for example, sending a unique one-time passcode by text or using the fingerprint/eye scan access on your smartphone after logging in with your password). Here’s a link to setting it up through Google and another link for Apple.

Monitor your accounts

This tip is super easy, but also super easy to forget: monitor your accounts regularly to spot and address any suspicious activity. This includes your email, banking and investment accounts, and any other websites/apps you log into on a regular basis. Put a reminder in your smartphone to review your accounts once a month—it doesn’t take long, and it can save you a lot of trouble.

Check your credit score

Similarly to monitoring your accounts, you should check your credit score annually to look for suspicious activity. We can help walk you through this—contact us to get started!

Watch out for spoofing and phishing scams

Weird words? Yes, but they’re ones you definitely need to know. Spoofing is when a scammer pretends to be someone they’re not in order to conduct identity theft or other attacks (essentially, imitating a person in order to obtain data and/or commit fraud). It’s not necessarily an impersonation of someone you know—it may be more general, such as pretending to be the police or CRA. Spoofing may also involve text messages or emails about (fake) lottery wins, refunds or job offers. These scams can be tricky to spot because the fraudsters involved use technology to appear like they’re calling or emailing from legitimate sources (for example, making it say “Canada Revenue Agency” on your call display when they contact you). Phishing is more broad, but typically involves a scammer attempting to gain access to somebody’s data by tricking them into volunteering personal information. This often involves sending a fraudulent link with a baiting instruction to click (for example, I found this funny video of you online—check it out!). Remember—never click a suspicious or unknown link that’s sent to you by email or text, even if the source is someone you know.

Say no to requests for money

Spoofing and phishing scams are common, but they aren’t the only fraudulent activities to be aware of. According to the Globe and Mail, “Among the top 10 riskiest scams in Canada in 2022 were cryptocurrency scams, advance fee loan scams and employment scams. New to the list were investment scams, rental scams and travel/vacation/timeshare scams.” Almost all of these scams involve sending money to someone who promises to help you (by investing it, offering you a vacation home for the weekend or using another false pretense). Another scam that’s rising in popularity is the so-called ‘grandparent scam’ where a fraudster calls an older individual and pretends that their child or grandchild has been in an accident and needs money. In some cases, the caller is sobbing incoherently while pretending to be a loved one in distress. They may ask for an email transfer, a wire transfer, or for you to physically drop off cash or gift cards. It’s a nasty, manipulative scam—here are more details on how it typically unfolds and how to protect yourself.

When in doubt, play it safe

Some scams are easy to identify but others can fool even the smartest, most well-informed individuals. Knowing this, it’s best to always play it safe. If you get an unexpected call from CRA or even your credit union one afternoon, tell them you’ll call them back—then call the official number on their website. If you get an email from a friend or colleague that seems out of character, pick up the phone and call them to ask questions. Never share your personal information in public online spaces, don’t click links or input numbers on an unknown call/text message, keep your personal information private and use technology to add layers of protection wherever you can. With knowledge, effort and dedication, you can avoid fraud and keep your money safe. Thanks for reading and please share this post with anyone who may find it helpful!