Canadians have strong concerns and awareness about the dangers of certain types of fraud and identity theft but there are some knowledge gaps that could leave them vulnerable.
A survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) shows that around 7 in 10 Canadians are more concerned about fraud and identity theft than they were 5 years ago.
But while awareness of identity theft (86%), credit card fraud (86%), email scams (79%) and telemarketing fraud (73%) is high, respondents were less aware of fraud involving cell phones, lotteries, and mortgages.
The fears of fraud are warranted with more than half of respondents saying they had been targeted by email fraud and 44% having experienced bogus telemarketers.
Almost 1 in 5 said they had been the victims of credit card fraud.
Around 6 in 10 respondents are concerned about businesses protecting their data, something being addressed in the financial services industry by new OSFI guidelines on cybersecurity incidents.
However, most people are taking steps to protect themselves including reviewing banking statements once a month (86%), shredding personal documents before disposing of them (79%) and covering the pin pad (71%) when at an ATM or at cash register.
"Taking action to thwart fraudsters is to be applauded," says Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada's Financial Literacy Leader. "Even as technology advances to make our lives easier with things like thumbprint, voice and facial recognition, we cannot afford to let our guard down. Each of us must continue to be personally diligent because the threat of fraud is constant."
Risks faced by consumers include using public Wi-Fi and sharing personal information online, for example on shopping websites.
"Stay alert and be aggressive in protecting yourself against fraudsters by seeking the information you need," adds Thompson. "At CPA Canada, we aim to provide Canadians with the tools and the support required to navigate and avoid fraud. Canadians can look to us as a trusted and impartial resource."
Other key discoveries from the study:
- 61% memorize their passwords
- 24% of Canadians write their passwords on a piece of paper
- 18% of Canadians take advantage of thumbprint identification
- 15% of Canadians never provide financial information on websites
- 63% and 62%, respectively, believe that their home address and date of birth are available online
- Still a small number, but some Canadians believe their voice (15%) and fingerprints (14%) can be found online
- About one-third of Canadians are aware that there is new federal legislation requiring organizations to report data breaches to the Privacy Commissioner
- Canadians learn about fraud from many different sources, including news media (54%), family and friends (46%) and tips from financial institutions (43%).
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