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After the online hacking of a Canadian diocese, the importance of financial safety online is being emphasized once again.

Keeping a close eye on your bank activities online is a key lesson that the Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle learned earlier last year, following an episode of fraud encountered by the diocese when their website's "Donate" button was used to test thousands of stolen credit cards.

Safety from online phishing companies is an issue that has been prevalent recently, with frequent scams impacting the daily lives of many.

Executive Office Shelley Baron of the Qu'Appelle diocese shared that their problems with the online hack were resolved, and have encountered no further problems since switching their online payment service in the wake of the incident. They do, however, advocate that similar faith-based groups and the general public take proper steps to ensure they are well protected online, particularly regarding their financial information.

"I think an organization needs to maintain a regular check on their online payment account. If the organization accesses/views their online payment account often, there is less opportunity for fraudulent activity," Baron stated, explaining that the diocese had not done this due to the infrequent amount of payments they typically received online.

"We are thankful that someone in the US noticed an unusual charge to his credit card and contacted us immediately. This alerted our finance office that there was a problem."

David Papp, online security expert, says that a number of phishing operations, designed to impersonate something you may be familiar with, are worth being aware of in order to protect yourself.

"It's education and awareness, proper protection with software, and alternate payment methods," says Papp, highlighting his top tips for keeping your financial information safe online.

Frequently pretending to come from reputable companies you may spend money with, or even your local bank, Papp says these online messages can be recognized through a few distinct characteristics.

Asking yourself whether a company would send you an email like the one you've received, as well as how legitimate the message looks, are two easy ways to educate yourself on safe online habits.

"There tend to be little spelling mistakes or little tips, red flags that would [be] set off," says Papp. "This is where you need to educate yourself a little bit."

Checking the domain name by hovering over the link you've been sent (not clicking it) is a great way that Papp recommends checking into whether or not the message you've received is real and above-board. If the name in the URL does not align with the company claiming to be contacting you, it might be because you are the recipient of a scam message.

Having two credit cards, with one specifically for online or questionable purchases with a very low limit, says Papp, is another way you can limit the potential harm of an online hacker.

"That way... you never compromise your primary card, the trusted one that you need for living."

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