With fraud on the rise, you’re probably wondering if the MTO RUS SO eChannel charge on your card is legit or if you need to freeze your account.
The MTO RUS SO eChannel charge is a common and legitimate charge that may appear on your credit card statement. The charge indicates a payment made to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
Below, I’ll explain why the MTO may have charged your card, outline some other common credit card charge codes, and give you some tips on what to do if you ever notice fraudulent charges on your statement.
First off – you’re not being paranoid. Credit card fraud is on the rise, and TransUnion Canada recently reported a 218% rise in digital fraud attempts. This has many Canadians on edge and double-checking their card statements.
In fact, I recommend frequently checking your statements to make sure that nothing is amiss.
These days, scammers rarely attempt to drain an entire account at once. This draws immediate attention and usually results in the card getting frozen immediately.
Instead, scammers will slowly steal money over time by initiating small, random charges between $5 and $20 throughout the month. These small charges often go undetected for months or even years at a time until the cardholder becomes suspicious.
One of the most common ways of identifying these fraudulent charges is to scan through your statements and search for odd-looking charges. These often may contain random letters, numbers, and other strings of words that just don’t make sense.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder why so many Canadians see the MTO RUS SO eChannel charge and immediately assume it’s the result of fraud.
Thankfully, this charge is not fraudulent. Rather, it represents a charge made to your card by the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO). The MTO is responsible for handling drivers’ license issuance, vehicle plates, registrations, and more.
In particular, the MTO RUS SO eChannel charge is almost always associated with renewing your Ontario driver’s license.
The province of Ontario requires all drivers to renew their licenses every five years to ensure that they’re up-to-date. Often, you may be able to renew your driver’s license and health card at the same time.
Renewing your Ontario driver’s license will entail a $90 fee in addition to any card processing fees. This fee typically shows up on your debit or credit card statement as MTO RUS SO eChannel.
Your driver’s license can either be renewed at a Service Ontario centre or through Ontario’s online payment portal. Eligibility for online driver’s license renewal is as follows:
- You must have a full license that isn’t suspended or cancelled
- You must have resided at the same address for at least 90 days
- You don’t have any new medical conditions that could impair your driving
- You aren’t required to take updated driving or vision tests
- You don’t have any outstanding fines (parking/traffic tickets)
You can pay for your driver’s license renewal with an eligible Mastercard or Visa card or with an Interac bank transfer. Whether you’re paying with your credit card, debit card, or Interac transfer, though, the charge should appear as MTO RUS SO on your statement, so you know it’s not fraudulent.
That being said, Ontario’s online payment processor may experience glitches from time to time.
After doing a bit of research, I found reports by some individuals who were charged multiple times by the MTO. These reports claimed that their charge had been declined or not processed properly, even after attempting the charge several times.
Then, the individuals were surprised when several back-to-back charges appeared on their statements.
Another report I read claimed that their card had been charged a year after they purchased a two-year registration for their car.
So, the takeaway here is that even though MTO charges are technically legitimate, your card may still have been charged by mistake or may be overcharged due to a system error.
To be safe, I recommend double-checking your statement after paying for any service from the MTO. If you happen to notice a mistaken charge, you’ll want to follow the following steps:
- Contact the MTO and ask to speak with a representative
- Ask the representative to look up your account using your driver’s license and ask if there have been any recent charges to your account
- If so, ask why the charge was initiated
- If the charge was mistaken, then the MTO should be able to refund the amount
- If the MTO has no record of the charge on their end, then you may be dealing with an instance of fraud by a scammer who’s using the MTO charge code to steal money from you
- If the MTO charge ends up being fraudulent, then you’ll need to contact your bank or credit card company to temporarily freeze your card, issue a new card, and request that the amount is refunded
Other than renewing your license, the MTO may charge your card for a variety of different services and fees, including:
- Purchasing a new license
- Purchasing the registration for a new vehicle
- Renewing the registration on an old vehicle
- Requesting a replacement license
- Parking tickets and fines
Personally, I feel like the MTO should do a better job of identifying charges placed on your account, as an MTO RUS SO eChannel charge just sounds fraudulent.
Since we’re on the topic, this is a good place to mention some of the other common card charges that you may see on your statement.
|Charge Code||Charge Description|
|GAINSTPS MSP||Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System|
|BCLC||BC Lottery Corporation|
|Canada FED||Energy rebates from the Government of Canada|
|Canada FPT||Government deposit|
|Canada GSL||Canada government student loan|
|Canada PRO||Working Parent Family Bonus|
|Canada RIT||Return income tax/tax return refund|
|OLG||Ontario Lottery and Gaming|
|VA/AAC||War veterans allowance|
How To Verify A Fraudulent Charge On Your Card
Some credit card charges are easier to identify than others. For example ‘Canada FED’ clearly indicates a charge by the federal government of Canada. Others are more obscure.
Usually, merchants do a good job of describing card charges, as they want to avoid their customers disputing charges. However, government charges (especially those made by provincial governments) can be a bit more confusing.
The best way to verify fraudulent charges on your card is to create a schedule of expected deposits and withdrawals from your account.
Once you have your list handy, add the major bills and expected payments to your virtual calendar and set a reminder for that day.
If you ever notice any strange charges and codes on your bank or card statement, all you have to do is go back and double-check to verify whether or not there was a debit from or credit to your account scheduled for that day.
If not, you should be worried.
Let’s just say that you check your statements and find a potentially fraudulent charge. Here are the steps you should follow to check up on the charge and remedy the situation:
Before you jump the gun and prematurely freeze your account, you’ll want to verify some details about the charge. The best way to do this is by using the same method that brought you to this post – research online.
Google the charge and see what other people are saying about the charge.
Once you identify the merchant, organization, or government entity behind the charge, find their customer support phone number and place a call. There’s a good chance that the organization will be able to look up your account details by your name or phone number to verify whether or not they charged your card.
If you can’t seem to find any information about the charge or if the information you researched bodes ill, then you’ll want to proceed by placing a temporary freeze on your card. Most credit cards and banks allow you to freeze your credit or debit cards with the click of a button in your smartphone app.
If you don’t have the app, you can also contact a representative over the phone and ask them to freeze your card. This will prevent any further spending on the card until you resolve the issue.
Next, you’ll want to contact your card’s fraud support department. You’ll usually be able to find the number for this listed on the back of your card. If not, you can look it up online.
Once you get a live agent on the phone, explain the situation to them:
- Tell the date of the charge
- Explain what the charge is listed as
- Tell them that you researched the charge code and tried to contact the merchant
- Explain that you did not authorize the charge and that it was made fraudulently
From here, the agent will probably do a bit of their own reach and double-check the charge.
Depending on your bank or card company, you may be asked to provide some additional details or verification to prove that the charge was, in fact, fraudulent.
Once the fraud claim has been processed, you’ll need to wait on your case to be resolved. Often, your funds may be returned to you in less than 24 hours in good faith, even if the fraud department takes several weeks to investigate the case.
Once the case is resolved, the fraud department may call or email you to update you on the situation.
Unfortunately, fraudulent charges on a credit card could impact your credit score. If it’s just a small charge that’s quickly refunded, then you likely won’t see much of a change.
However, if the criminal is using your card to make large purchases that put you close to or over your credit limit, then your score could be impacted.
If you think that you may be the victim of identity theft and have realized multiple charges on several different cards, then your best bet may be to lock your credit profile. To lock your credit profile, you’ll need to contact Equifax and TransUnion (the two major credit bureaus in Canada) and request a temporary credit lock.
Once your identity has been properly restored and your credit profile is under your control, then you can unlock your credit profile.
To close out, here are a few helpful tips to help prevent card fraud in the future.
Some scammers utilize fake card readers that they place over real card readers at gas stations, convenience stores, and more. When you swipe your card, it passes through both readers, copying your card information and sending it to the scammer, who can then use the information to make a copy of your card.
One of the best ways to avoid this is to utilize contactless payment systems or tap-to-pay. While these systems can still be taken advantage of, it’s less likely.
Traditional leather wallets may be prone to attacks by RFID readers. Scammers can walk past you on a busy city street with an RFID reader in their pocket or bag. These readers can scan your cards through your wallet, copying your card information.
By storing your cards in an RFID-blocking wallet, you’ll prevent these machines from being able to scan your cards.
Don’t respond to emails and text messages that ask you to submit your card information. These “phishing messages” often appear as fake bills, invoices, or even CRA debt statements. A legitimate organization will never ask you to send card information over email or text.
How to track Your MTO RUS-SO EChannel Charge transactions
Tracking your transactions can help to reduce errors and uncover fraud. To track your MTO RUS-SO EChannel Charge transactions:
- Log into the MTO RUS-SO EChannel portal: As mentioned above, visit the official MTO website and navigate to the RUS-SO EChannel section.
- Once inside the portal, go to the “Transaction History” or a similarly named section.
- Here, you’ll find a list of all your transactions, including dates, amounts, and descriptions. You can usually filter and search transactions based on specific criteria to find particular charges.
Most of the time, an MTO RUS SO eChannel charge is a legitimate charge from the MTO and is typically the result of renewing your driver’s license, vehicle registration, or other transportation-related charges.
However, the MTO can mess up sometimes and bill your card without your consent. Additionally, scammers may disguise themselves as the MTO in an effort to avoid detection. So always double-check with the MTO if you notice suspicious charges on your statement.
Looking for great rates on a new credit card? Keep on reading to see my list of the best low-interest credit cards in Canada!