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Safe Banking

What to do if you’re the victim of a scam

October 27, 2023
min read

There’s no such thing as being too safe when it comes to protecting yourself from cybercriminals. We’re covering what to do if a scammer targets you.

Older man looks at credit card nervously

You know that sinking feeling when you realize the email, text, or phone call you just received... may not be from who you thought it was?

That’s when you realize you might be the victim of a scam.

If you suspect you’ve been targeted by a hacker, what should you do?

We met with Sheila Jonson, Information Systems Security Officer at Cambrian, to discuss the best course of action after experiencing fraud:

How common are phishing scams?

In 2023, 49% of Canadians said they were recently targeted by a fraud scheme.

That gives you an idea of just how common scams are—it’s estimated that globally, 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent every day.

With numbers like these, it’s likely that you or someone you love will be targeted by a scammer.

You can’t prevent those messages or risks from occurring. But what you can do is make every effort to protect your personal information.

That way, if the day comes, you will be better protected from the consequences of fraud and scams.

How to tell if you’ve been hacked

Common signs that your account has been compromised include:

  • You’re having trouble logging in. You’re certain you’re typing your password correctly, but you keep getting error messages. This may be a sign that someone else has changed your password.
  • You spot unauthorized transactions on your account. When you check your credit card or account statements, do you see any purchases that you don’t recognize?
  • You notice unfamiliar activity or new accounts on your credit report. It’s a good idea to check your credit report a couple times a year! That way, you can find out if anyone has used your information to take out loans or lines of credit in your name.
  • You see emails or messages that you didn’t send. Take a moment to review the messages sent from your account. Did all of these come from you—or has someone been using your account to send malicious messages to your contacts? Take a moment to review any personal information in the account (like your phone number or address) to see if that’s been changed, too.
  • Your device seems different. Is your phone or computer running slowly or behaving in a way that you wouldn’t expect? These signs may indicate you have a virus.

The steps to take if you’re targeted by a cybercriminal

“If a hacker gains access to your personal details, they can potentially sell it on the black market, commit identity theft, sell it for marketing purposes, post it online, hold your data for ransom, apply for credit cards or loans, intercept your tax refund, or take over your online accounts,” says Sheila.

Not sure what to do next? Follow these steps to protect yourself:

Block the cybercriminal

If you’ve identified the bad actor, one of the first things you should do is cut all contact. “Block the hacker or scammer as soon as you can,” says Sheila.

Call your financial institution

Have you lost your credit/debit card or noticed fraudulent transactions on your account?

“Make sure to temporarily freeze your bank account and credit card,” Sheila says.

To do so, contact us as soon as possible. Call 1-888-277-1043 and we can suspend or cancel the card to prevent further fraudulent transactions. We’re available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Alternatively, you can suspend or cancel your Cambrian card through Online Banking.

Run a virus scan

Make sure your devices aren’t infected with viruses or malware by running virus scans and updating software regularly.

“Scan your device or browser for malware and suspicious connections,” suggests Sheila.

Report the incident

“To help prevent it from happening to others, report the scam to the authorities and spread the word about the scam.”

You can contact Equifax and Transunion, the major credit bureaus in Canada, to let them know you’re the victim of fraudulent activity. They will add a note to your file.

In addition, file a police report on the incident.

“Reporting scams helps law enforcement agencies track down and prosecute scammers. It can also help prevent others from falling victim to similar scams in the future,” says Sheila.

Change all your passwords

As soon as you’ve discovered that your information has been comprised, you should immediately change all your passwords.

If a hacker learns the password to one of your accounts, and you’ve used that same password for other accounts, then they can use it to gain more access to your personal information.

Watch your monthly statements

In the coming weeks and months, stay vigilant and watch your statements closely. If you spot any fraudulent activity on your credit or debit cards, contact your financial institution right away.

“I strongly advise members to monitor their bank accounts, credit reports, and other financial statements for any unauthorized activity. Keep a close eye on your email and social media accounts for any suspicious activity,” says Sheila.

“You can refund or dispute any unauthorized payments made under any of your financial accounts.”

We’re here to keep you safe

Sheila shared that the best strategies for safeguarding yourself from scams include:

  • Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or messages.
  • Do not share personal information with anyone unless you are certain of their identity.
  • Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
  • Keep your software up to date.
  • Use antivirus software and firewalls.
  • Check your bank statements and credit reports regularly.

At Cambrian, protecting our members is one of our top priorities. If you suspect you’re the victim of fraud, contact us immediately—we’re here to help.

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*All rates and yields subject to change without notice.
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