Banks have extensive security measures in place to protect their customers from fraudulent activity in their bank and credit card accounts, including monitoring transactions looking for unusual activity, verification questions to ensure that it is the customer using online banking, and moving to more secure chip and PIN (personal identification number) debit and credit cards. These efforts have been able to prevent criminal activity and help Canadians safely do their banking and pay for purchases.

There are also important and simple steps that customers need to take to prevent fraud, and one of the most important things is to choose secure PINs and passwords. This is a requirement set out in your banking agreements and if customers have taken the appropriate steps, then they will be protected from fraud losses by the banks’ zero liability policies.

Tips on choosing secure online passwords and PINs

pins and passwordsEach bank will have its own requirements about choosing secure passwords and PINs, so it is best to check with your bank’s online access agreement, bank account agreement or credit cardholder agreements, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

When choosing online passwords, verification questions and credit and debit card PINs, avoid choosing something that would be easy to guess or information that could be obtained by others. You must not use:

  • Your name or that of a close relative
  • Your birth date, year of birth, telephone number or address, or that of a close relative
  • Your bank account, debit card or credit card number
  • A number on any other identification that you keep with your debit and credit cards in your wallet, such as a driver’s license or social insurance number
  • A password or PIN used for other purposes

Other secure banking tips

  • Never share your debit or credit cards, PINs and passwords with others, not even family members.
  • Shield your PIN when entering it. Don't write it down, memorize it.
  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately.
  • Always check your monthly bank and credit card statements, or check your accounts online regularly. Make sure all the transactions are yours.
  • Never give out your card number over the phone or Internet unless you are dealing with a reputable company. The only time you should give it is when you have called to place an order.
  • Protect your home computer – make sure that you install anti-virus, anti-spyware and Internet firewall tools purchased from trusted retailers or suppliers. Keep these programs enabled and continuously updated to protect your devices against malicious software.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada also offers a good reminder about never sharing your PIN in this video and infographic.


Information on choosing secure PINs and passwords is outlined in the account and cardholder agreements and electronic banking agreements. These documents are provided to customers when they open a bank or credit card account or when they sign up for online banking. They are also readily available on request at bank branches or on bank websites. It is very important that customers read and understand these agreements before choosing their PINs and passwords.

Did you know?

Your Money Seniors logoThe CBA offers a free fraud prevention seminar for seniors as part of its Your Money Seniors financial literacy seminar program.

Find out more and request a seminar for your seniors’ group at