Fraud and scam prevention tips for the holiday season

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Oaken Financial

December 20, 2022

Travel and lifestyle

The holiday season is upon us, and everyone knows what that means – lots of online shopping, busy stores and malls, and many well-exercised credit and debit cards. It also means fraudsters and scammers are doing double duty in their efforts to take money away from you.

And, the risk is real. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) nearly $421 million has been lost to fraud so far this year, surpassing last year’s total of $383.6 million. What’s more, the CAFC estimates that just 5% of frauds are reported; meaning, the amount of money stolen through fraud is considerably higher.

Protect the money you’ve got in your savings accounts and safeguard yourself against fraud this holiday season with these tips that will minimize your risk year-round.

Credit card fraud protection

With so many shoppers using their credit cards online and in-store, the holiday season is, unfortunately, a busy time for credit card fraud. And, even for the most experienced and cautious shopper, it’s easy to get distracted and let your guard down. Minimize the chance you'll fall victim to credit card fraud with these reminders.

  • Check your credit card activity online to monitor your account activity in real-time, and remember to change your passwords regularly. Use strong passwords, that can’t be guessed, and that use a variety of characters.

  • Be wary of buying from online companies you’ve never heard of and whose ads you may see on social media accounts. Make purchases only from trusted sources or businesses that you’ve vetted.

  • Only buy from websites where your transaction is encrypted. Look for URLs that start with "https" or have a padlock image next to the website's address.

  • Don't make purchases with your card by email. Email is generally not secure, and if you're giving out your credit card details by email you could be leaving yourself exposed.

  • If you get your credit card statements in the mail, keep them secured and shred them when you no longer need them.

Email, phone and text fraud protection

Too often people are trusting when someone takes the time to email, call or text, and fraudsters try to capitalize on this unquestioning nature. Lower your risk of being scammed by raising your guard.

  • If you receive an email, call or text that is unsolicited, unusual or unexpected, be extra cautious. Do not click on any links or attachments, and do not provide any personal or financial information online or over the phone. If the message comes from a company you do business with, contact them at a trusted number published on their website or listed on your account statement.

  • Unfortunately, charity scams are a real threat, particularly during the holiday season. Confirm that any charity you plan on donating to is in good standing with the Canada Revenue Agency.

  • Be on the alert for fake email or shipping/delivery text notifications, especially if you’re not expecting a package. Red flags include: a link or button you’re asked to click; misspellings in the message; requests for payment or personal information; and, links to URLs (website addresses) that are suspicious. How can you see if an email link is suspicious? Hover your cursor over the link (without clicking it) and you’ll be able to see the destination URL.

  • Beware of upfront fees. If you’re cold-called or receive an unsolicited email or text about a product or service you might be interested in purchasing, never pay up front. No reputable company would expect you to do so. Also, if you’re told you’ve won a prize, never fork over money to claim it. There are no prize fees or taxes in Canada.

  • The holidays and family go hand-in-hand, and scammers prey on this. If you receive a call from an unknown number that begins with something like, “Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?”, be cautious how you proceed. Scammers hope you’ll answer with, “Of course! It’s Jane/John!” and will then impersonate your loved one. They’ll likely ask you to send money to help them out of an emergency that they’re too afraid to tell anyone else about. If you ever get a call like this, don’t reveal who you think the caller could be. Instead, it’s better to simply discontinue the call.

  • Finally, remember that financial institutions, government agencies, law enforcement and reputable companies will not demand payment for a product or service by wire transfer or with prepaid credit/debit/or gift cards.

Scammers don’t take a break during the holidays, and neither should you when it comes to protecting your personal and financial information. Whatever the approach taken, if it’s unsolicited, rushed, unexpected or involves pressure tactics, take the time you need to confirm its legitimacy. If it doesn’t pass the smell test, delete it or hang up when it feels wrong.

Keep your money safe and secure

Oaken offers a Digital Security Guarantee: if an unauthorized transaction is conducted through Oaken Digital, we will reimburse you 100% for any resulting losses to your accounts, provided that you have complied with your security and other obligations under the Oaken Digital Access Agreement. You can review the terms and conditions here.

Here are some of the benefits of registering with Oaken Digital:

  • 24/7 access

    • Manage your finances with 24/7 access to all your accounts.

  • Quick and easy transfers

    • Manage your Oaken savings account including funds transfer to and from your account with just a few clicks.

  • Instant alerts

    • Stay on top of events with notifications and alerts from the Oaken Digital notification hub.

  • Secure login

    • Conveniently access the Oaken Digital app using a biometric login.

Register for Oaken Digital by visiting