Credit card fraud - (2024)

How credit card fraud happens

Credit card fraud happens when someone steals or uses without your permission your credit card or credit card information. Your information or your card is used to:

  • make a purchase in a store
  • make a purchase or transaction online
  • make a purchase or transaction by telephone
  • withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM)

A person might steal your credit card information by:

  • looking for bank statements or information in your trash or mailbox hacking into computers of companies and stealing credit card information, such as your Internet service company or your gym
  • installing small devices on payment terminals that record your credit card information
  • sending you a fraudulent email asking for your credit card information (also called phishing)
  • asking you to use your credit card on an illegitimate website to make a purchase

Protect yourself from credit card fraud

All credit cards issued in Canada now have a computer chip that makes transactions more secure. The computer chip works with your PIN to make sure you give permission for each transaction. This helps protect you against fraud if someone steals your credit card. Credit cards with computer chips also have magnetic stripes. They may be used in countries that don’t have chip-reading technology.

There are also certain actions you may take to protect yourself from credit card fraud. Follow these tips to protect your credit card and your personal information.

Keep your PIN secret

Choose a PIN that is hard to guess. For example, avoid using your birthday, Social Insurance Number, address or telephone number.

Be sure to keep your PIN secret by:

  • never sharing your PIN with another person. Don’t even share it with a family member or partner
  • memorizing your PIN rather than writing it down. If you write it down, keep it in a safe place away from your credit card
  • changing your PIN often

Some financial institutions offer the ability to pay with a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Even with this payment method, you must always keep your PIN secret.

Learn how to protect yourself from unauthorized mobile payments.

Protect yourself in public places

Protect yourself from credit card fraud in public places:

  • keep your credit card in a safe place
  • limit the number of credit cards you carry with you
  • hide the keypad with your hand or body when you are entering your PIN, at an ATM or payment terminal
  • keep your credit card in sight at all times when making a purchase
  • report anything you think is suspicious about a payment terminal or an ATM. Contact the business’s head office and your credit card issuer

Protect yourself at home

Protect yourself from credit card fraud at home:

  • put a lock on your mailbox. This will prevent someone from stealing your credit card statements or replacement cards
  • sign the back of a new credit card immediately after you get it
  • destroy old credit cards that are no longer valid by cutting them up
  • keep your credit card statements in a safe place
  • get written confirmation from your credit card issuer when you cancel your card

Protecting yourself online

Protect yourself from credit card fraud online:

  • use only secure websites when sharing personal information or buying something online. Look for websites with addresses starting with “https” or with a padlock image in the address bar
  • keep your computer firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware systems up to date
  • don’t give your credit card information over email as it isn’t secure
  • 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

Protect yourself over the telephone

Legitimate credit card companies don’t ask for personal information over the phone. Contact your issuer using the telephone number on the back of your card. Don’t use telephone numbers provided in an email or by anybody other than your credit card issuer.

Protect yourself from credit card fraud over the telephone:

  • avoid giving out credit card information over the telephone in public
  • only give your credit card information to a company you trust
  • request further information from someone who calls asking for credit card information

Make sure a company is legitimate before giving it your information. If you’re not sure, hang up and contact the Better Business Bureau.

Find your Better Business Bureau.

Additional tips to protect yourself

To better protect yourself from credit card fraud, you may also:

  • make a list of your credit cards with the phone numbers to call in case of theft or loss
  • never lend your credit card
  • keep any convenience cheques given to you by your credit card issuer in a safe place
  • report a lost or stolen card to your credit card issuer immediately
  • review your credit card statement monthly
  • report any transactions you didn’t make or approve to your credit card issuer immediately
  • check your credit report at least once a year and immediately report any errors

If you're a victim of credit card fraud

If you think you’re a victim of credit card fraud, contact your financial institution immediately.

You may then proceed as follows:

  1. write down what happened and how you first noticed the fraud
  2. contact your credit card issuer to tell them about the fraud
  3. take note of whom you talked to and when you spoke to them
  4. keep all documents that you think might be helpful if the police investigate the fraud
  5. contact your local police service to file a complaint
  6. if you believe a company (for example, your telephone company) has been hacked, contact it

Put a fraud alert

You may also contact Canada’s 2 main credit bureaus; Equifax and TransUnion. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Ask for a copy of your credit report from each credit bureau. Review them and report any incorrect information.

Learn how to get your credit report.

Report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre is jointly managed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau Canada. It's Canada's central repository for information about fraud.

Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Related links

  • Resolving an unauthorized transaction
  • Unauthorized credit and debit transactions: know your rights and responsibilities
  • Getting your credit report and credit score
Credit card fraud - (2024)


How do I report credit card fraud in Canada? ›

contact your credit card issuer to tell them about the fraud. take note of whom you talked to and when you spoke to them. keep all documents that you think might be helpful if the police investigate the fraud. contact your local police service to file a complaint.

What is the punishment for credit card fraud in Canada? ›

342(1) [theft, forgery, etc., of credit card] and (3) [unauthorized use of credit card data] are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 10 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019).

Do police investigate credit card theft in Canada? ›

Credit and Debit Card Fraud

If the bank reviews your complaints and takes responsibility for the loss, they will report it to police, there is no need for you to report it. If the bank determines that you are responsible for the loss, you must get a letter in writing from them and then report it to police.

Who handles fraud cases in Canada? ›

In order for law enforcement to combat fraud and cybercrime, it is essential that those who experience, or fall victim, report it to local police and the CAFC. Local police are positioned to investigate the incident and the CAFC supports law enforcement by sharing information collected through the reports.

How do I report international fraud in Canada? ›

Canadian anti-fraud sites
  1. Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  2. Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
  3. Reporting Economic Crime On-Line
  4. Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions

Is credit card fraud a felony in Canada? ›

According to section 342(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, “every one who steals a credit card, forges or falsifies a credit card, uses or traffics in a credit card or a forged or falsified credit card, or uses a revoked or cancelled credit card is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment or ...

How serious is fraud in Canada? ›

Property obtained by fraud valued at over $5,000 can result in a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. Property values of more than $1 million. If the stolen property value exceeds $1 million, a judge will consider this to be an aggravating circ*mstance and usually sentence the accused to two or more years in jail.

Can you get deported for credit card fraud? ›

(CN) - Credit fraud is a crime of moral turpitude that can trigger deportation, even if the fraudster meant to pay back his victim, the 9th Circuit ruled.

Can you go to jail for not paying credit cards in Canada? ›

No, you won't be arrested or go to jail for not paying your student loans. No, you won't be arrested or go to jail for not paying your credit card debt. In Canada, not paying your creditors is not cause for arrest or imprisonment.

Can police do anything for credit card frauds? ›

Yes, the police handle credit card fraud, especially for cases in which the fraud is extensive, involves a larger criminal scheme or requires criminal investigation and potential prosecution. Their involvement typically follows reports from banks, victims, or credit card companies.

Can the police track who used your credit card? ›

Using Geolocation Tracking

In most cases, this data is shared with law enforcement, who direct the internet service provider (ISP) and other intermediaries to disclose details about the card user. The success of this step depends on how easy it is to break through the anti-tracking measures used by the thief.

Can they catch the person who stole my credit card? ›

A heads-up clerk might notice someone using a stolen credit card and call it in to the police. Or, an investigator might be able to trace a criminal who uses a stolen credit card number online. But unless you know the person involved in committing the fraud, you may not find out if there's actually been an arrest.

What is the statute of limitations on fraud in Canada? ›

This two-year limitation period applies to both: legal fraud or misrepresentation, (where money is sought for damages), and to. equitable fraud or unconscionable bargain, (where equitable relief is sought for damages, such as the cancellation of a contract).

What to do if you've been scammed in Canada? ›

Report the scam to government agencies

For more information, call 1-800-348-5358 or visit You can also contact the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services so that other people can be warned about the scam. Call 416-326-8800 or toll-free at 1-800-889-9768.

Will banks refund unauthorised transactions in Canada? ›

You should immediately report any unauthorized transaction to your bank. If you took the necessary steps to protect your PIN, you should get your money back. You're not responsible for losses that result from circ*mstances beyond your control, which include: technical problems.

What happens when you report someone for credit card fraud? ›

This could also involve requesting police reports and receipts to compare signatures. The card issuer must respond within 30 days of receiving a report, but the investigation can take up to 90 days. During this time, you won't have to pay for the disputed charges, and you won't get charged interest on them, either.

How do I complain about credit card fraud? ›

You can also call any of these numbers:
  • 1800 425 0018.
  • 1800 103 0018.
  • 1800 208 3333.
  • 1800 3011 3333.

How do I file a claim for credit card fraud? ›

Contact your card issuer via the phone number on the back of the card or the issuer website's live-agent chat. Tell the customer service representative that you think you were the victim of fraud. The agent may have you confirm recent transactions to be sure any authentic purchases are processed correctly.

Where can I complain about a credit card company in Canada? ›

If you have an issue with your financial institution, you may report your complaint to FCAC. FCAC will ask for details about your complaint to help determine if it falls within its mandate.

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