Credit card fraud

When your credit card, credit card information or your personal identification number (PIN) is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases or transactions, you become a victim of credit card fraud.

How does it happen?

Thieves use a variety of tricks such as:

  • retrieving financial information out of your mailbox or garbage
  • skimming your card through a secondary reader that copies the magnetic stripe information
  • hacking into merchant databases and stealing credit card information
  • implanting small devices on gas pumps that record your credit card number
  • "phishing" for your credit card information with a fraudulent email that looks legitimate.

Chip technology is now replacing the current magnetic stripe to make credit card transactions more secure. In these cards, there is an embedded microchip that is encrypted and virtually impossible to replicate. However, fraud can still occur if someone has your actual credit card and PIN.

How to prevent it

Prevention begins with protecting your personal and financial information.

  • Do not share your credit card or credit card PIN with anyone.
  • Cover the keypad when entering the PIN at a retailer or a bank machine.
  • Keep your credit card in sight when you make purchases to prevent skimming or double swiping.
  • Record your credit card number, card details and whom to contact in case of theft or loss. Keep this information in a secure place.
  • Check your statements every month and report any errors or unauthorized transactions.
  • Keep your credit card statements in a safe place, and shred them when you no longer need them.
  • Get written confirmation when you cancel your credit card.
  • Only use your credit card online on trusted sites and ensure that your online transaction is encrypted. Look for websites with addresses starting with “https” or a padlock image on the page. This will indicate that the information entered on these pages and the transmission of the information are secure.

 What to do if you are a victim

If you become a victim of credit card fraud, you may be protected by one of the consumer protection policies set in place by American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Some conditions may apply.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, take the following steps:

  • Start a written log: record when you noticed the fraud and the actions you took, including names of people you spoke to and dates of communications.
  • File a report with your local police.
  • Contact your financial institutions and any other companies (e.g., phone company or cable provider) where your accounts were tampered with, or are at risk of being tampered with.
  • Advise Canada's two credit rating agencies, TransUnion​ and Equifax.
  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, a national anti-fraud call centre, at 1-888-495-8501 or
  • Know your rights and responsibilities.

To learn more about how credit card fraud happens, how to protect yourself and what to do if you are a victim, read the tip sheet "Protecting yourself from credit card fraud."