Despite the apparent rise in fraud and identity theft, fewer people are taking steps to protect themselves
As technology weaves itself inextricably into our lives, the number of transactions that occur digitally has skyrocketed. That means not only money, but also information, is being electronically transmitted — and exposed — on a massive scale. Unfortunately, the rise in danger seems to be outpacing people’s efforts to avoid it.
“Identity theft and fraud is more complex and sophisticated than ever, which should be of growing concern for Canadians,” said Tara Zecevic, vice president for Fraud Prevention and Identity Management at Equifax Canada. “Millennials, in particular, should be doing more to educate themselves and protect their personal data given the incidence of credit card fraud we saw in 2018.”
Based on data flagged by financial institutions and tracked by Equifax Canada, there’s been a 42% increase in attempts at credit-card fraud over the last two years. Counting only fraudulent credit-card applications in 2018, the data shows millennials being targeted in 48% of cases. And over the last five years, the occurrence of true-name fraud (when an identity thief poses as a real person in completing a credit-card application) has also increased by 84%.
With that data in mind, Equifax Canada started a consumer survey to gauge people’s attitudes with regard to identity theft and how they protect themselves.
In its second year of conducting the poll, the company found that consumers were doing more in two areas: sharing less on social media (up from 39% to 43%) and checking their credit reports (from 21% to 28%).
Notably, credit-report checking was more prevalent among millennials (29%) than any other age group. But compared to the general population, millennials appeared less likely to be concerned about identity theft and fraud based on numerous criteria, including:
- Feeling vulnerable to fraudsters and identity thieves (53% of millennials vs. 57% in the general population);
- Belief that identity theft is becoming more prevalent (70% vs. 82%);
- Belief that identity theft happens to other people and is unlikely to happen to them personally (25% vs. 14%);
- Feeling that they’re not a target of fraud because they don’t have enough money (39% vs. 29%)
- Double-checking their credit card and/or bank statements (47% vs. 59%);
- Shredding personal and/or financial documents (36% vs. 52%);
- Regularly updating security passwords (39% vs. 49%); and
- Installing and/or updating security software on their personal computer (22% vs. 35%)
Almost four in 10 Canadians (37%) reported being victims of identity theft or fraud. While the overwhelming majority (88%) said they’ve taken steps to safeguard their personal information, that number seems to be on the decline. In its first survey conducted two years ago, Equifax Canada had found a greater share of the general population double-checked their credit card statements (65%), shredded their documents (57%), and updating their security software (42%).
Aside from checking their credit reports, Equifax Canada encouraged people to place a fraud alert on their Equifax credit reports, which they can have done for free by calling a toll-free-number.