Last Updated on 2 months by SCARS™ Editorial Team

Anti-Scam FAQ: What Is A Phishing Scam?


“Phishing” is a type of identity theft where criminals use email, websites, web forms, and even fake advertisements to try to bait you into giving your information away. You are asked to disclose confidential financial and personal information, like passwords, credit card numbers, Access Codes, or your National Identification card number. The most familiar type of phishing scam is an email threatening serious consequences if you do not log in and take action immediately.

Never respond to emails, open attachments, or click on suspicious links from unknown senders or even reputable institutions that ask for personal or financial information.

Always remember that no legitimate company will ever send you unsolicited emails asking for confidential information, such as your password, PIN, Access Code, credit card, and account numbers. No real business will ask you to validate or restore your account access through email or pop-up windows. The only time any business website or platform will ever ask for anything is when you register or feed to confirm your identity after requesting account changes.

If you have entered personal information after clicking on a link or suspect fraudulent behavior, please change your passwords immediately, and notify the organization you have an account with that has been compromised.

Recognize it:

Some emails look authentic, featuring corporate logos and layouts similar to the ones used by institutions for legitimate communication. Because these emails can look so official, unsuspecting recipients may reply to them, resulting in financial losses, identity theft, and other fraudulent activity.

You should never respond to or action any email that:

  • Requires you to enter personal information directly into the email or submit that information online
  • Threatens to close or suspend your accounts if you do not provide or verify personal information
  • Claims that your account has been compromised or that there has been fraudulent activity on your account and requests you to enter, validate, or verify your account information
  • States that there are unauthorized charges on your account and requests your account information
  • Claims that the Bank has lost important security information and needs you to update your information online
  • Asks you to enter your card number, password, Access Code, or account numbers into an email, pop-up window, form, or non-secure webpage
  • Asks you to confirm, validate, verify, or refresh your account, credit card, or financial information

Preventative Measures:

  • Be suspicious of all unsolicited or unexpected emails you receive, even if they appear to originate from a trusted source like Scotiabank.
  • Never click on a link in an email or pop-up window to go to a site. Type or cut and paste the URL into a new Web browser window.
  • Type in the Web address yourself or search using Google to ensure you are transacting with the real company. You can also bookmark the URL to save time.
  • Never call a number appearing on an email you suspect is fraudulent. In a new twist, phishing scams use a phony telephone number in the email. When you call, a person or an automated response asks for your personal and/or account information.
  • If you do have a relationship with the company mentioned in the email, call the company using a phone number from a reputable source like your statement or the phone book.
  • Stay current. Read and follow Safe Computing Practices on a regular basis.