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How to prevent e-Transfer fraud and interception

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It’s easy to send and receive money with Interac e-Transfers® – you can pay back friends, send money to family, or receive payments through email or text message. But even though e-Transfers are considered secure, criminals have - of course - still found ways to use them to steal money. So learn how to protect yourself from these internet pickpockets.


How do e-Transfer scams work?

When you send an e-Transfer, you fill in the contact and payment info, plus a security question with an answer that only you and your contact know. Then, your contact gets a message saying there’s an e-transfer for them. Once they answer the security question, they can deposit the money directly into their account.

So how does it go wrong?

e-Transfer interception

An e-Transfer interception occurs when a third party hacks into the intended recipient’s email account and finds key information, like the e-Transfer notification and the answer to the security question (either because it’s written in your emails or easily guessed). Then, they can redirect the money and deposit it into their own account without hacking into your bank account. This prevents the funds from getting to the intended recipient, but they’re still gone from your account.

e-Transfer fraud

e-Transfer fraud occurs when a third party gains access to your online banking account or app and sends an unauthorized e-Transfer for their own gain.


How to prevent e-Transfer fraud and interception

Here’s the good news: There are several simple ways to increase your security and prevent e-Transfer interceptions and fraud.

Double-check the details

  • Make sure you’re sending the transfer to the right email account.

  • Avoid using e-Transfers to pay for products and services - like paying the someone to fix your car. Transfers are like cash payments – it’s very hard to dispute or refund them.

  • Choose a security question with an answer that isn’t easy to guess. This means avoiding things like names, birthdays, hometowns – don’t use anything that someone could guess by looking at your social media profile.

Tighten your security

  • Don’t include the security question’s answer in the e-Transfer message or send it in another email to your contact.

  • Protect the security of your email and banking information. Don’t stay logged in when you walk away from your computer, use a password that’s easy to guess, or use the same password for everything.

  • Take advantage of other security features – like Meridian’s security alerts, which you can set up in Online Banking and in our Mobile App.

  • Consider using Interac e-Transfer Autodeposit. If you have Autodeposit set up, Interac e-Transfer transactions sent to your email address will automatically be deposited into your Meridian account, which allows you to bypass steps that require you to enter a password and/or an answer to a security question.

Trust yourself

  • If you receive a deposit or money request notification that you weren’t expecting, then trust your instincts if it seems off. Contact the sender through a different channel to check if the transfer or request is real.

  • Exercise your common sense - don’t click on any links in e-Transfer notifications from a sender you don’t recognize.


What to do if you suspect your security is compromised

If you suspect someone has cracked your password or if you suspect any loss, theft or unauthorized use of your account, contact Meridian immediately at 1-866-592-2226.

If you get a notification that looks like a scam masquerading as an Interac e-Transfer, and it includes Meridian as one of the deposit options, please forward the email to onlinebankingsecurity@meridiancu.ca. Our security team will further investigate and work to shut it down.

A version of this article was originally published on September 30, 2019.


Learn more about protecting yourself

Protect yourself against phishing scams
How to create a strong password
Protect yourself from frauds and scams related to COVID-19