Many Canadians are victims of financial fraud, with almost half (46 per cent) of respondents reporting they have fallen victim at some point in their lives, according to the latest survey conducted by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).
Released in advance of March – Fraud Prevention Month – CPA Canada’s 2022 Fraud Study found that credit card fraud remains the leading type of financial fraud – which almost a quarter of survey respondents have experienced (24 per cent), followed by email or phishing fraud, which eight per cent have been a victim of.
“Canadians lives are increasingly online, making it more important than ever to be vigilant and alert to protect private information,” says Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada’s financial literacy leader. “That means we have to be very cautious and mindful of pitfalls when we use the internet.”
Almost four-in-five of those surveyed (76 per cent) visit retail websites, 72 per cent do internet banking, and an equal number manage their credit card balance and statements online.
Additionally, Smart Home applications that can be controlled by smartphone or voice technology are becoming more popular. Out of those surveyed, 30 per cent use smart speakers such as Google Home or Alexa, while 17 per cent have remote home temperature controls and 16 per cent have smart security cameras. As our devices get ‘smarter’ and make our lives more convenient, the Internet of Things (IoT) presents personal security intrusion risks. Cybercriminals are getting stealthier in tandem with these changes and are working to access the personal information these devices hold, meaning Canadians need to stay informed and alert.
Awareness not turning into action
The majority of survey respondents (69 per cent) are more concerned about fraud than they were five years ago. In addition, 62 per cent of respondents said they are doing more now in terms of fraud prevention when compared with five years ago.
Even with this increased awareness, concern and action, there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to password protection
- Roughly a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) write their financial passwords down on paper.
- 18 per cent save them on a file on their computer.
- 17 per cent keep them on an app, on their phone or tablet.
One quarter (25 per cent) of respondents change important online passwords for personal information less than once a year, while eight per cent have never changed passwords for important information. Experts recommend frequent password changes to keep financial information as secure as possible.
Protect yourself from fraud with these tips:
Share personal information cautiously
- When sharing personal information online, ensure you are using a secure website by looking for the padlock icon in the web browser. When it’s locked, the site is secure. Seven-in-ten respondents take this step to protect themselves.
- Passwords should be stored in a safe, secure place and changed frequently. Create strong, unique passwords and use a different password for each account. Roughly half (53 per cent) of survey respondents opt to memorize their passwords. However, for those who don’t, it’s important to store passwords in a secure place and to shred all documents containing personal information.
Monitor for illegitimate activities
- Check your financial statements at least once a month – especially debit and credit card statements. Most banks offer text or email alerts for banking and credit card transactions to identify fraudulent activity more quickly. You can sign up for these quickly and easily on your banking app. Only 41 per cent of Canadians surveyed currently have these alerts set up.
Know your approximate credit score (credit rating)
- Almost one third (31 per cent) of Canadians surveyed admitted they do not know their credit score. CPA Canada recommends requesting a credit report from Equifax or TransUnion Canada at least once a year to monitor for illegitimate activities. If you regularly shop or transact online, consider using a credit monitoring service to monitor your score proactively.
Know what to do if you are a victim
- If you do become a victim of fraud, gather all information about the incident and contact your financial institutions. Change passwords and report it to your local police and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. And don’t be ashamed – tell family and friends as it might prevent them from becoming a victim, too.
Stay up to date with the latest information
- CPA Canada offers many free tips and resources to help Canadians stay safe against fraud. It’s catalogue of financial literacy sessions is available online, including Fraud Protection workshops and education materials.
Nielsen conducted the CPA Canada 2022 Annual Fraud Survey via an online questionnaire, from January 25 to February 3, 2022, with 2,004 randomly selected Canadian adults, aged 18 years and over, who are members of their online panel. A background document can be found online at: cpacanada.ca/fraud
About Canada’s CPAs
The Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is used by more than 220,000 professional accountants around the world. Canadian CPAs are valued for their financial and tax expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, management skills and leadership. Canadian CPAs serve in senior roles in Canada and abroad and are recognized as having the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. They work in all sectors of the economy: public practice, industry, government, not for profit and academia. cpacanada.ca
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