“If you’re running to the store, can you get toilet paper for me? I’ll e-Transfer you the money.”
We’ve probably all been relying on electronic money transfers a lot more in this time of quarantines and social distancing. It is quick and easy and enables paying bills, rent and sharing funds without having to worry about cash (which many of us never have on hand at the best of times!).
Interac reports that Canadians are using Interac e-Transfer more than one million times per day and more than 40 million times each month, totaling more than $132 billion transferred in 2018.
The ease of Interac e-Transfer has attracted many Canadians to use it as their preferred method of payment between peers and even businesses. With the features of speed and simplicity however, it has also attracted scammers, and many of us have fallen victim to fraudsters. With the sheer amount of transactions done every day and the speed at which they are done, how do you protect yourself?
As it turns out, there are a number of things that Canadians can do to be proactive in their internet security and protect themselves when they are sending money to friends and family:
1. Back to basics: create a strong password.
There have been multiple cases where individuals have had their email accounts hacked and Interac e-Transfers have been diverted to scammers’ bank accounts by guessing easy passwords.
At minimum, a strong password should have at least 6 characters that are a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. They should not include characters in any sequential order or be a simple word that can be hacked using a ‘dictionary attack’.
2. Don’t create a paper trail for your password.
Emails and texts can be hacked. Sharing Interac e-Transfer passwords verbally adds an extra layer of protection against cyber criminals.
If you are not able to verbally give a password, use a security question that only the sender and recipient know the answer to. Don’t make it easy to guess – the whole point of a password is to be secure.
3. Verify the source.
The same way the tellers ask you questions to verify the source of funds, so should you.
If you’re not expecting an Interac e-Transfer, do not accept it. Even if it looks like it is coming from someone you trust, if it’s unexpected, be safe. It takes two minutes to send a text or make a quick call to verify that the source of the funds is legitimate. It could save you loads of money in the end.
And remember: the CRA will never send or request money via Interac e-Transfer.
4. Review information carefully.
When sending an Interac e-Transfer, check the information entered carefully. If possible, have the recipient confirm that the details are correct and up to date before you hit send. If you’re even one letter off, you could send the wrong person your money!
Pro tip: Verify the amount you’re sending as well so you don’t end up giving someone an early Christmas gift!
5. Utilize Interac e-Transfer’s security features: Autodeposit and Request Money.
Autodeposit allows you to receive money via Interac e-Transfer and have it automatically deposited into your account, without answering any security questions or clicking any links. It can be more secure to use as it avoids relying on potentially compromised email inboxes.
With Request Money, you can submit a request for payment via e-Transfer. The recipient is then notified and can accept the request. If accepted, the requested amount is automatically deposited into your account.
Reminder: If it is an unexpected money request or from someone you don’t know, it’s always worth it to verify the source.
6. Practice internet safety.
Though it seems impossible sometimes, there are still a variety of little things you can do to increase your overall security on the internet, and be proactive in protecting your data and finances:
- Use strong passwords and don’t use the same password for all your logins.
- Use two-factor authentication where possible for email and other accounts.
- Do not access or login to online banking on public or unsecured wifi.
While this list may seem daunting , all of these strategies take less than five minutes to put into action. It is a good idea to get into the habit of practicing internet security to keep your personal data and financial information safe. Putting in a bit of time now could save you endless headaches, countless hours and tons of money lost later.
See something suspicious?
If you are suspicious of any transaction, do not click or open anything. You should immediately notify your financial institution.
If it is a case of fraud, you can also report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, through its website at www.antifraudcentre.ca or by telephone at 1-888-495-8501.