Goldhawk Fights Back: It’s Fraud Awareness Month in Canada

This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at

During the month of March, we will be getting a steady stream of tips from banks and consumer organizations, telling us how to hang onto our money.

TD Canada Trust is first off the mark with a fraud prevention quiz. It contains several good questions and some tricky situations, to be sure.

But with apologies to Andrea Phillips, Vice President of Payments for TD Canada Trust, I’m going to use her tips as a starting point for my own advice, based on my 42 years of chasing bad guys and fighting back on behalf of us mere mortals.

1. What does a bad guy need to copy your credit or debit card? Well, the crook needs both the information on your card and your PIN. And he can only get the PIN if you have been careless with it or some shoulder surfer has watched you key in your PIN, in partnership with the store clerk who is using a special machine to skim the information from your card. In more sophisticated operations, a hidden camera, the size of a button, recorded your PIN being entered. CHIP cards, now being phased in by Canadian banks, might combat some of the fraud but remember hat in Britain, where CHIP cards have been in use for ten years, fraud has hardly subsided at all Bad guys have just found other ways to get at your money

2. Bad guys want, essentially, two things from us. They want our money or they want our personal information so they can steal our identity and get more of our money by charging up phony credit cards, in our name. That leaves us to clean up the mess. The banks will probably cover the fraudulent loss but getting your life back in order after someone has stolen your ID is a mammoth task that can take years.

3. Phishing is a con operation where some sleazy crook tries to get your personal information by talking you out of it, on the telephone or on line. It is the modern version of dumpster diving, where crooks rummaged through dumpsters out behind businesses, looking for your personal information. Car rental agencies were favourite locations; they photocopy your driver’s licence, the mother lode of useful information, containing your all-important date of birth.

4. How often should you check your bank statements or credit card bills? All the time and right away. Report discrepancies immediately. Generally, banks and credit card companies only give you 30 days or so to correct any mistakes, otherwise, you could be stuck. While you’re at it, you should consider paying a few bucks to have a credit bureau monitor your credit rating on a monthly basis and report any activity. That’s essential if you have lost a wallet or a credit card. It’s the best way to discover if a crook has stolen your identity and is now apply for credit using your good name.

5. Be careful with your personal information. Every time somebody asks for your telephone number, address, date of birth or other personal information, say no. Have the person or company explain why they need it and then, 90 percent of the time, say no again. Then find somebody who will deal with you as a consumer without being quite so nosy.

Photo © Feng Yu


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Dale GoldhawkGemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).

Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.