Cyber safety: a new resource to help newcomers to Canada protect against scams this Fraud Prevention Month

“Dear customer, your account has been compromised. Reply to confirm your pin.”

“Congratulations! You have won $1,000. To claim your prize, visit this link.”

Every day, Canadians receive scam messages like these in their inboxes, voicemail, and text chats. They promise instant riches or threaten financial loss. While some scams are easy to spot with their poor grammar or desperate pleas for money, others can be alarmingly convincing. They might include accurate details like the first four digits of your credit card, a street address, or other personal information. And unfortunately, fraudsters are only getting more sophisticated.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre found that in 2023 alone, Canadians were scammed out of approximately $567 million with only an estimated 5-10% of victims reporting. That year, suspected digital fraud attempts increased by almost 40%, the third highest rise among 19 measured countries. It’s not surprising then that through a recent poll by spark*insights, the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) heard from Canadians that they recognize this increase in scams is a significant problem and the vast majority said they would turn to their bank for help if they were a target of a fraud or scam. The CBA and its members are committed to providing that help and also offer resources to help Canadians protect themselves from the surge in scams.

As scams evolve and become more prevalent, it’s increasingly important that Canadians understand how to protect their personal and financial information. Building this knowledge is especially critical for new immigrants to Canada, as they can be particularly susceptible to such scams due to their lack of familiarity with both the threats and available resources for combating them in Canada. To ensure a smooth transition for newcomers and to protect the economic stability of all communities, leaders need to remain aware of this threat and offer resources to combat it effectively.

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada and to help spread the word about how to protect against scams, the CBA and the federal Get Cyber Safe awareness campaign partnered to create the Cyber Security Toolkit for Newcomers to Canada. The Toolkit that aims to educate newcomers on cyber safety practices and ensure they are equipped to recognize and avoid common scams in Canada. As an accessible, first line of defense against scams, the free Toolkit provides tips and information on common scams, including one-time passcode scams, phishing scams, phone scams, tax season scams, and more. It also guides readers how to develop strong passwords, report suspected fraud attempts, and protect their banking information.

According to Scotiabank, despite the fact that newcomers are more vigilant about preventing fraud than other Canadians, 38% of newcomers to Canada have fallen for a fraudulent scheme at least once, which is significantly more than the general population. At the same time, newcomers are also 47% more likely to discuss fraud prevention than other Canadians. But to support those discussions, they need resources that detail how to combat further fraud attempts.

With initiatives like the Cyber Security Toolkit, along with additional tailored Toolkits and a Cyber Safe website, the CBA and its members hope to support customers, raise awareness about the many forms scams take, and foster a safer online environment for all of Canada’s residents. With scams evolving swiftly, it's important to stay informed and educate those around us.

To learn more and download the Cyber Security Toolkit for Newcomers to Canada for members of your community, visit:

Anthony G. Ostler is President & CEO of the Canadian Bankers Association