Sidestep scams and protect your identity to stop fraud

When someone uses deception to achieve personal or financial gain, that’s fraud. It can happen over the phone, door to door, by mail, email or text message, or on the internet – and it includes identity theft, which uses personal information for criminal purposes.

Beyond feeling embarrassed, fraud victims may experience significant financial losses and, if their credit reports are affected, they may have restricted access to credit cards, loans, lines of credit and mortgages. However, there are many things you can do to prevent fraud – and reporting it can help minimize the damage.


Shake off shoulder surfing

Someone doesn’t have to be standing right behind you to “shoulder surf” and steal your personal identification number (PIN). Sometimes, there’s a hidden camera. Or you may be told you have to disclose your PIN to put a transaction through. To avoid shoulder surfing:

  • Use your hand or body to shield your PIN in public spaces
  • Never let your access card out of your sight when conducting a transaction
  • Only allow your access card to be swiped once
  • Take your access card and transaction record with you when your transaction is done
  • Regularly check your statements and balances and call us if you see any transactions you don’t recognize
  • Tell us right away if your access card is lost, stolen or retained by an ATM

Just as important, never tell someone else your PIN. If you’re concerned someone else may have learned your PIN, call us right away.

Toss back the phish

A “phishing” email or text message pretends to be from a legitimate company requesting personal or financial information. It may look very convincing, complete with company colours and logos. It often asks you to click a link and then enter personal, financial or password information. Know that Manulife Bank will never request personal, financial or password information in an unsolicited email or text message. If you ever want to confirm that a message from Manulife Bank is legitimate, call us.

Trust your spidey-sense

If something sounds either too good or too bad to be true, question it. It isn’t likely that a Nigerian prince would contact you for help transferring money. It’s equally improbable that the Canada Revenue Agency would arrest you the moment they discovered a tax filing mistake. Yet both of these scams have worked in the past. If you ever wonder if an offer or threat is real, call the organization itself using a number you look up. 

It’s okay not to share

Don’t share personal information in response to an unsolicited inquiry. Even when you’re initiating a relationship – say, signing up for a store’s points program – ask:

  • Why do you need this information?
  • How will it be used?
  • Who will have access to it?
  • How will it be protected?

Unless it’s required by law, avoid giving out your social insurance number (SIN). There are often other forms of identification you can use instead.

Understand the criminal mind

When you know how criminals think and act, you can better protect yourself.

To get your personal information, a criminal may:

  • Steal your wallet or purse, containing your identification, credit cards and bank cards
  • Steal your mail, including your credit card and bank account statements, pre-approved credit offers, new cheques and tax information
  • Complete a “change of address” form and divert your mail to another location
  • Rummage through your personal or business trash
  • Pose as a landlord or employer and request your credit report
  • Find personal information you shared on the Internet

With your personal information, a criminal may:

  • Change the mailing address on your credit card account and run up charges you never see
  • Open a new credit card using your name, date of birth and SIN, and use it without paying the bills
  • Establish phone service in your name, and use it without paying the bills
  • Open a bank account in your name and write bad cheques
  • Use counterfeit cheques or debit cards to access the funds in your bank account

Guard your personal information

Treat your personal information like it’s valuable – because it is. To keep it as safe as possible:

  • Carry only what you need in your wallet or purse
  • Keep everything else – especially your social insurance number (SIN), passport and birth certificate – in a safe place
  • Remove mail promptly from your mailbox
  • Shred mail and documents that contain your personal, account or investment information before tossing them out
  • Check your credit report annually with the following:
  • Stay safe online

Report suspected fraud

Fraud often goes unreported – but when you reach out you can minimize losses and help prevent others from becoming victims. Call us if you experience any of these telltale signs of fraud:

  • You see transactions you did not make on your bank account or credit card statements
  • You stop receiving statements altogether
  • A creditor tells you your application for credit was received – but you never applied
  • A collection agency tells you you’re in default on an account you didn’t open

You may also want to contact:

  • Your provincial/territorial ministry of transportation if your driver’s licence and vehicle licence are compromised
  • Your local passport office if your passport is compromised
  • Employment and Social Development Canada if your social insurance number is compromised

We’re here to help

At Manulife Bank, we take fraud very seriously. We are committed to protecting the financial assets you have with us by working closely with law enforcement, other financial institutions and regulatory organizations to minimize risk exposures related to fraud. We review each case of suspected fraud on an individual basis. In a proven case of fraud, victims are protected by the Canadian Code of Practice for Debit Card Services and will not suffer any financial losses. Keep in mind, however, that if you knowingly disclose your PIN to someone else, you could be liable for losses.

Knowledge is one of the best defences against fraud. Learn more about fraud types from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and fraud prevention from the Canadian Bankers Association.

Fraud often goes unreported – but when you reach out you can minimize losses and help prevent others from becoming victims".