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Take Steps to Increase Your Safety

Protecting your information and ensuring the security of your transactions are among our highest priorities. But you can maximize your own online privacy and security, by being informed, which is often the best defense against fraud.

What You Can Do

From ATM, account and credit card statements, to insurance records and Online Banking login information, you hold and have access to a great deal of personal, business and financial information.

What is Identity Theft?

When someone steals your name, your Social Insurance Number or Social Security Number (SIN/SSN), your credit card number, or some other personally identifying information for their use without your knowledge or consent, they've stolen your identity.

What is Identity Fraud?

Identity fraud occurs when someone obtains another individual's personal information and uses it to perform financial activities in that individual's name. This could involve, but is not limited to, accessing that individual's financial accounts, opening new credit card accounts, writing cheques, opening bank accounts or obtaining new loans.

How Can I Protect Myself?

There are steps you can take to protect your privacy and identity and minimize your risks of identity theft. Learn more from our Tips for Protecting your Personal Information.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Identity

The consequences of identity theft can be serious and frustrating. Things you can do:

  • Sign all credit cards as soon as you receive them.
  • Pay attention to billing cycles. If bills fail to arrive, contact the company to ensure the bill has not been illicitly redirected.
  • Review your financial statements and look for unauthorized transactions such as purchases and withdrawals.
  • Limit the number of credit and charge cards you own to reduce exposure.
  • Notify your creditors immediately if you have lost or had a card stolen.
  • Destroy cancelled cheques and store new cheques in a safe place.
  • Destroy pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bankbooks, bank statements with cheques and pay statements.
  • Cancel all inactive credit cards.
  • Review credit bureau files annually and immediately question any unknown credit inquiries or unauthorized accounts.
  • When using passwords, choose unique ones that are difficult for others to guess.
  • Before providing any personal information to a third party, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared.
  • Carry only the essential identification information you need with you and keep things like your Social Insurance Number/Social Security Number and passport secured at home or in a safety deposit box.

What to Avoid

Note that RBC will never request your Social Insurance Number/Social Security Number in an unsolicited email or phone call for any reason, for tax purposes or otherwise.

  • Never record or keep a Client Card PIN, password or Social Insurance Number/Social Security Number in your wallet.
  • Only provide your Social Insurance Number/Social Security Number when absolutely necessary, i.e. for tax purposes and when opening accounts.
  • Don't leave mail lying around. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, and promptly remove mail from your box after delivery.
  • Don't discard personal financial information (bills, bank statements, cancelled cheques) through your local recycling program.
  • Don't provide personal information such as birth date in response to an unsolicited email or telephone call.
  • Don't provide your credit card number unless you have initiated the call to a trusted third party.
  • Don't leave your purse or wallet unattended at work, restaurants, health clubs, in a shopping cart or at social gatherings.
  • Never lend credit or debit cards to anyone.

If you think you are a victim of identity fraud, visit our Report ID Fraud section.

Although fraud scams are becoming more sophisticated, being aware of them and knowing how to identify them is the best way to protect yourself. Staying informed is the best defense.

The following are common scams used to gain access to personal and financial data.


Skimming is the act of obtaining information from a debit or credit card. Most of this data is obtained with a card reader device when the card is used. The PIN is often obtained separately, usually by someone who is watching or by hidden cameras or sophisticated devices that may be attached to the machine used. Once the magnetic strip data and PIN are obtained, a counterfeit card is produced and then used.

Always shield the keypad when you enter your PIN at an ATM or point-of-sale terminal. Do not use an ATM that you suspect may have been tampered with. Keep track of your account balance and debits, and report any fraudulent or missing activity immediately. Beware of unauthorized persons asking for your PIN. No law-abiding employee, police officer, financial advisor or lawyer will ever ask you for your PIN. This is strictly confidential information that provides access to the funds in your account. If you are contacted and asked for your PIN, do not respond, either by phone or email. Check that all your cards are in your possession and report any loss immediately. Even if your cards are in your possession, contact the institution the caller is claiming to be from and report the incident.

Fake Charities

If you receive an unsolicited call, asking you to donate to a charitable cause, don't give your credit card number over the phone or agree to have someone collect a cheque in person.

Ask the caller to mail a pledge form to you or take their telephone number, to call them back. Do not return the phone call until you independently verify that the phone number is legitimate.

Card Switching and Shoulder Surfing

While at an ATM, be aware of anyone who tells you that you've dropped something or offers to help you enter your PIN. As you stoop to retrieve a dropped item, they may exchange your Client Card for another card. Then, working together, another person standing nearby will attempt to observe you as you enter your PIN so that both your card and your PIN are in their possession.

Never let anyone help you enter your PIN. Before you put your card back in your wallet, check the name to ensure it is your card. If it is not, report the incident immediately. Do not use an ATM that looks like it has been tampered with.

Telemarketing Scams

These scams are when you are contacted by a supposed telemarketing firm, claiming that you have won a prize or a trip, but asking for your credit card number, requesting that you purchase a promotional item, or that you pay the taxes for that prize or trip, in order to collect your winnings.

Be highly suspicious when receiving voicemail messages directing you to call and provide credit card or bank numbers. These types of scams are called "Vishing". Rather than provide any information, we advise you to discontinue the call and contact your bank or credit card company directly to verify the validity of the message or the prize.

If you think that you may be involved in a telemarketing scam, contact the authorities:

Canada: PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-85011-888-495-8501.

U.S.: Federal Trade Commission 1-877-FTC-HELP [1-877-382-4357]1-877-FTC-HELP [1-877-382-4357]

International (British Isles): Information Commissioner's Office 08456 30 60 6008456 30 60 60

Unusual Requests That Are "Too Good to be True"

Be suspicious if you are contacted by phone, mail, email or fax and told that you've won, inherited or been included in a business venture involving large sums of money.

Also be alerted to another scam, if you are selling personal property (e.g. a car or other goods). A fraudulent person may pose as an interested buyer, pay for the goods with a cheque that's substantially greater than the asking price, and then call you to request that you return the overpayment. In many cases, the original cheque is stolen, counterfeit or altered and is not returned to RBC until a much later date. You won't discover there is a problem with the cheque until you have returned the so-called "overpayment."

Be careful about sending any funds back by cheque or wire transfer. If you are sending a payment via wire, ensure that you are comfortable with your transaction and that you are fully aware of to whom you are sending the funds. If an individual or third party asks you to make a deposit or open an account on their behalf, ensure you are confident of their identity and the validity of their reasons for the request before you do so. Be extremely wary of this kind of request.

Job Scams

Advertising of opportunities to make extra money, earn money from home or make a career move have never been greater. Unfortunately not all employment advertisements are legitimate. Avoid a type of job scam known as a payment-forwarding or payment-transfer scam. Be wary of jobs where you are asked to accept and transfer money from one bank account to another. Often the receiving bank account will be in a different country, and you will be requested to have an account at a specific bank in Canada or in the U.S. You may be instructed to keep a small percentage of the money being transferred as payment.

The details of this type of scam varies and can be quite clever.

Fraudsters may request a job applicant's bank account information in order to set up a direct-deposit payment schedule, or they may transfer the funds themselves without the applicant's knowledge. Fraudsters may steal company names and corporate logos to make their ad or email more convincing. They may also scan for resumes that job seekers have posted online and then contact them directly.

Always ensure any potential employers and requests are legitimate. Be aware of this type of scam. If you transfer money that has been stolen or is being laundered you could be an accomplice to the crime, under the law.

Advance-Fee Scams

Posing as a reputable financial institution by copying its brand and logo, fraudsters promote supposed pre-approved loans and mortgages or unusually high interest rates for investment products. Business is solicited on the strength of the reputation of the financial institution, and money is requested up front to secure the approved credit or high-return investment product.

Always ensure that the institution and offer is legitimate. If you are uncertain, call the institution to verify the offer using the institution's legitimate phone number that you have independently obtained, not the phone number printed on the suspicious offer.


Learn what phishing is and how to protect yourself. Visit our Cyber Security site.

Ponzi schemes

A Ponzi scheme attracts investors by offering guaranteed and unusually high returns, based on short-term and often complex investments. However, the underlying investments don’t exist. Returns are paid to the initial investors from the funds of subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned. The perpetuation of the scheme requires a continued stream of money from new investors.

Tips to Avoid a Ponzi Scheme:

  • Beware of claims of guaranteed investments with above average returns;
  • Ensure that you receive detailed written information to fully understand and assess the underlying investment details;
  • Assess the promoter of the investment and do your homework, i.e. background check, are they licensed to sell securities - if they claim they are exempt, check with the local regulator; and
  • If you have already invested and you are pressured to reinvest your returns, or there is a disruption of services by the promotor, contact the local regulator.

Always take the time to thoroughly review and evaluate a plan and the promoter before investing in it.

Investing with Care

Minimize the risk of encountering potential fraudulent activity when you make investment transactions.

  • Be wary of "get-rich-quick" offers and "hot tips"—you may stand to lose much more than you'll gain.
  • Only buy from institutions you trust.
  • Avoid investments you are uncomfortable with or don't understand.
  • Never make investment decisions under pressure.
  • Although many investment transactions are conducted by phone or online, be cautious about investment companies without established premises or offices. Scrutinize the investment carefully if you're asked to send money to a post office box, and independently verify the legitimacy of the company.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited email about investments, job offers or any requests for personal information without independently verifying the contents of the email or phone call.

REMEMBER—if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Email & Website Fraud

Learn more about protecting yourself from email and website fraud. Visit our Cyber Security site.

  • Ensure your cheques are reviewed by RBC and incorporate security features that help combat counterfeiting.
  • Always store your cheques, deposit slips, bank statements and other documents in a secure location.
  • Shred cancelled cheques and old statements, or store under the same security as your un-issued cheques.
  • Reconcile your bank statement daily or through online banking.
  • Subscribe to products that will expedite your cheque verification and reconciliation process, like RBC Payee Match.
  • Ensure your cheque order is complete and there are no missing cheques. Report missing cheques to your bank/cheque supplier immediately.
  • Don't leave blank spaces on the payee and amount lines.
  • Use dark ink that can't be easily erased or covered over.
  • Have different accounts for different functions, for example, one for payroll, one for accounts payable, cheque issuance etc. for easier reconciliation.