Security and fraud glossary
Learn more about the most common terms used when talking about fraud and security, and find more information about each of them.
Chip and PIN cards
Sometimes referred to as a “smart card”, the new Chip and PIN card technology contains an embedded computer chip which stores and processes data. Chip cards and chip terminals work together to provide added security by validating the card and the cardholder. When you use a CHIP card, you must enter your personal identification number (or PIN) to validate the purchase. This process makes your transactions much safer and dramatically reduces the risk of skimming. Chip and PIN technology is common in many countries – including Canada and Europe – but is less available in the USA. Learn more about Chip and PIN cards.
- counterfeit: when fake cheques are used that are not written or authorized by legitimate account holders.
- forgery: when stolen cheques are signed by someone other than the account holders.
- fraudulent/altered: when cheques are issued by account holders, and then intercepted and altered to change the beneficiary or amount.
A typical cheque fraud scam is where someone sends you a cheque, asks you to deposit the money in your account and then requests you forward most of the funds by wire transfer or money order somewhere else. Examples of where this can occur include a job posting for an Internet collection agent, a lottery or inheritance notification, or overpayment for something you're selling where you’re then asked to return the extra funds. Learn more about cheque fraud.
EV SSL certification is the symbol for the highest level of trust for an online business. All modern browsers support a new technology known as Extended Validation or EV. EV provides colour-coded alerts that instantly inform you of the validity of a website, allowing you to visually verify authenticity and further reduce the threat from phishing attacks. SSL is an acronym for Secure Socket Layer. An SSL certificate assures site visitors that the site they are browsing is certified as valid.
Learn more about EV SSL.
Identity theft (sometimes also known as identity fraud) is one of the fastest-growing crimes in North America. Identity theft is a form of stealing another person's identity or personal information, and then assuming that person's identity to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in the victim’s name. Learn more about identity theft.
Mortgage fraud occurs when an individual intentionally provides inaccurate, fraudulent or incomplete information to a lender to secure a mortgage that they might not otherwise be granted. This could include anything from an individual claiming to have a higher income than they actually have, to providing falsified proof of identification or a falsified appraisal of the property.
A related kind of fraud, called title fraud, occurs when a fraudster assumes the identity of an individual homeowner and then uses that false identity to pose as the homeowner. They could then assume the title on the home, sell the property or obtain a mortgage on that property or other properties in the homeowner’s name.
For more information, visit our section on mortgage fraud.
Phishing is a type of online deception, using fraudulent emails sent to unsuspecting users, that’s designed to steal personal data, such as credit card numbers, passwords or other account information, by masquerading as a legitimate business in an electronic communication – primarily by email. Learn more about phishing and how to protect yourself.
Skimming is an illegal act whereby your debit or credit card information is stolen or copied without your authorization for the purposes of counterfeiting credit or debit cards, or for accessing your accounts to steal money or make fraudulent purchases in stores or online. Stolen details can also be used for identity theft. Learn more about skimming.
Malware and spyware
Malware – short for "malicious software" – includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and other damaging and unwanted software. This kind of malicious software is designed to enter and damage a computer system, without the user's knowledge or informed consent, in order to steal personal information, such as account numbers, user names, passwords and credit card numbers for the purpose of fraud.
Learn more about and how to protect yourself and your computer.
Viruses and rootkits
Computer viruses are software programs deliberately designed to interfere with computer operation, record, corrupt or delete data, or spread themselves to other computers and throughout the Internet. Viruses often slow things down and cause other problems in the process. A rootkit is a stealth program installed on your computer that gives a hacker full control of your system and is not detected by anti-virus software. Learn more about viruses and rootkits.