CPA Canada research shows fraud’s impact on Canadians

Almost half of those polled say they've fallen victim, but study suggests more efforts needed to stay safe

CPA Canada research shows fraud’s impact on Canadians

New research by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) indicates that while fraud has touched the lives of countless Canadians, their awareness of the threat may not be translating into adequate action.

In the 2022 Annual Fraud Survey, which was administered via an online questionnaire with 2,004 randomly selected Canadian respondents, aged 18 and over, nearly half (46%) of respondents stated they have been a victim at some point in their lives.

Credit card fraud continues to be the most common sort of financial fraud with over a quarter of survey respondents (24%) had been a victim of it, followed by email or phishing fraud, which 8% have fallen for.

Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada's financial literacy leader, said, "Canadians’ lives are increasingly online, making it more important than ever to be vigilant and alert to protect private information. That means we have to be very cautious and mindful of pitfalls when we use the internet."

Almost three-quarters of those polled (76%) go to retail websites, 72% perform internet banking, and a similar percentage manage their credit card balances and statements online.

Smart Home apps that can be managed with a smartphone or speech technologies are also becoming increasingly popular. Smart speakers like Google Home or Alexa are used by 30% of those polled, while remote home temperature controls are used by 17% and smart security cameras are used by 16%.

The Internet of Things (IoT) raises personal security infiltration threats, CPA Canada said, as our devices become "smarter" and make our lives easier.

Cybercriminals are becoming stealthier in response to these changes, attempting to gain access to the personal information stored on these devices, spurring a need for Canadians to remain aware and vigilant. Fraud is more concerning to the majority of poll respondents (69%) than it was five years ago.

Furthermore, as compared to five years ago, 62% of respondents claimed they are doing more in terms of fraud prevention currently.

Despite the increased knowledge, concern, and action, there is always room for improvement, particularly in the area of password security.

Almost a quarter of those polled (26%) write down their financial passwords on paper. Eighteen per cent of people save them to a computer file, and 17% keep them on their phone or tablet via an app.

One-quarter of respondents (25%) change essential internet passwords for personal information less than once a year, the survey said, while 8% never change passwords for important information at all.

To keep people’s financial information as secure as possible, CPA Canada issued a reminder to change passwords on a regular basis. They also said people should use caution when disclosing personal information, strengthen passwords, keep an eye out for illegal activity, and have an idea of what their credit rating is.

Those who’ve fallen victim to fraud, they added, should collect as much information as possible about the incident and contact their financial institutions.