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Safe Banking

How to protect your bank account

March 21, 2023
min read

March is Fraud Awareness Month, and here at Cambrian, we’re taking this opportunity to help you keep your bank account safe.

Man checking his cell phone and smiling

At Cambrian, we’re continually evolving our security practices to better protect our members. One recent change we’ve made is eliminating the use of Secret Phrases.

Security Phrases were used to verify that emails from Cambrian really came from us. Members would select a specific phrase, and we would include it in the email subject line.

As we’ve evolved our security practices, Secret Phrases have become obsolete. And over the past couple of years, we have stopped requiring members to set up Secret Phrases.

Now, we are removing the feature altogether in favour of more secure verification methods.

Starting on March 22nd, 2023, any notifications sent via email will no longer include Secret Phrases in the subject line. We encourage our members to set up alternative security measures, such as two-factor authentication and account alerts.

With that in mind, what are the best ways to protect your bank account?

We’re covering the most effective security practices you can use, with advice from Aaron Ramsumair, a Senior Security Specialist here at Cambrian.

Identify phishing emails

One of the main ways hackers get access to your bank account is through phishing emails.

First, what is a phishing email?

It’s an attempt to steal your personal information—like your login credentials, credit card, or Social Insurance Number (SIN)—through an email that directs you to a harmful website.

But it’s not always easy to tell the difference between a phishing email and a legitimate one. Here’s how to do it:

Look at the sender’s email closely

You’ve just received an email from someone you think you know—but how can you be sure?

Try to confirm the sender’s identity to see whether that email is legitimate.

“If you’re uncertain, take a beat to look up the phone number for the company or the person reaching out to you,” says Aaron.

Even if the email address matches the one in your contacts, the person’s account may have been compromised.

“Call them and ask if they sent that email,” says Aaron.

Anytime you receive an email with an urgent request—asking you to send money or provide sensitive information—verify who sent the message first.

Hover over a link before clicking it

Before you click on any links within an email, make sure you inspect the link first. You can do so by hovering your cursor over the link—the URL will reveal where it leads.

The website may look familiar at first, but take a closer look. Are there any misspelled words or unusual domain extensions (such as a website ending in .org instead of .ca)?

The link could take you to a website that’s cleverly designed to steal your login information by posing as your bank or an online store.

Double-check before you click any links in emails.

Watch out for typos

Most of us make typos by mistake—but you can’t say the same about scammers.

You'll often find typos in phishing emails because they:

  • Can bypass spam filters. Many email providers have spam filters that will trigger based on specific words. By intentionally misspelling these words, scammers try to get around these filters.
  • Make the email seem more “trustworthy”. Few of us have perfect grammar, especially when we’re sending a quick email to a friend or colleague. Scammers may intentionally include typos to make the email seem more authentic.
  • Help scammers find targets. A scammer might use typos to filter out people who won’t fall for their tricks. Someone who doesn’t notice typos may be more likely to click a harmful link.

Now that you know how to identify phishing emails, you can ensure your personal information won't fall in the wrong hands.

Next up, we're covering more ways you can keep your bank account safe:

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

If you want to take your account security one step further, you can set up two-factor authentication.

“A password can be stolen or guessed,” says Aaron. “Two-factor authentication adds another layer by requiring a code that cannot be predicted and only you can read.”

With 2FA, in addition to your password, you’ll require a code to log in.

2FA puts another barrier between hackers and your account. Here’s how to add 2FA to your Cambrian account through Online Banking or our Mobile App.

Create a secure password

By strengthening your password, you can:

  • Lower the risk of identity theft and fraud
  • Make sure your personal information isn’t seen by other people
  • Prevent hackers from guessing your log-in credentials

Here’s Aaron’s advice on how to create a secure password:

“Be sure to include uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.  The longer the password, the better.”

You might be tempted to create the same password for all your accounts, a practice known as password recycling. That way, you only need to remember one.

But you don’t need just one secure password—you need multiple.

If one of your passwords is leaked in a data breach, a hacker could use it to access your other accounts.

Managing multiple passwords can be tricky. Luckily, there’s a solution:

“You can use a password manager to store and generate them,” Aaron suggests.

A password manager keeps all your login credentials in place, so you don’t have to remember them all. This allows you to increase the security of your accounts with ease.

Add a PIN to your mobile account

What might happen if a hacker hijacks your phone number?

Given how many accounts are linked to your phone number, the ramifications of this can be devastating.

If you forget your password, you’ll typically use your email or phone number to recover the account.

Once a hacker takes control of your phone number, they can use this account recovery feature to change passwords on other accounts, including your bank account.

Protect yourself by increasing the security of your mobile account.

“Ask your carrier to put a PIN on your mobile account,” says Aaron.

With a PIN, your mobile provider will require a unique password before you can make changes to your SIM card or phone number.

To set it up, all you need to do is call your mobile carrier and add a passcode or PIN to your account.

Monitor your bank statements

If you don’t make a habit of watching your transactions, it’s easy for fraudsters to take money that you may not even notice is missing.

One technique that hackers will use is withdrawing a very small amount of money—say, $1 or $10—just to see if you notice.

And if you don’t, they’ll start withdrawing progressively larger funds.

Be skeptical of every transaction you don’t recognize.

Set up account alerts

Cambrian members can monitor their account activity at all times with alerts. You can set up account alerts so you’ll instantly be notified of certain transactions.

We’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to set up account alerts.

Call your financial institution

As soon as you notice suspicious charges on your account, let your financial institution know ASAP. This is the first step in taking back control of your account.

If you’re a Cambrian member, call us as soon as you notice something isn’t right.

How Cambrian keeps you safe

In our increasingly digital world, online banking is faster and more convenient than ever.

But as we come to rely more and more on technology, it’s crucial that we keep our digital information safe.

Cybercrime is surging. You don’t need to own a major corporation to be the target of a cyberattack. It can happen to anyone, regardless of your age or income.

Cambrian is committed to protecting our members. As a financial institution, we take your account security very seriously.  

“We’re always implementing new security tools, monitoring the existing ones for signs of nefarious activity, and looking for ways to improve our processes,” says Aaron.

“We continuously test our security to ensure we meet the highest regulatory standards.”

If you’d like to learn more about how we keep members safe, book a meeting at Cambrian Credit Union in Winnipeg or Selkirk today!

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