Canadian Underwriter

Fraud vigilance increasing among polled Canadians: Equifax Canada

February 28, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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Surveyed Canadians are becoming more vigilant about guarding against fraud, with the lion’s share of respondents taking measures to protect their personal information and three in 10 seeking help to ensure they are alerted should a fraud be under way.

Almost all polled Canadians (91%) have taken steps to better protect their personal information, Equifax Canada reports in a statement Tuesday. Commissioned by the company, the consumer survey involved 1,569 Canadians between 18 and 65.

Findings were shared by the company – which is headquartered in Atlanta and operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region – in support of Fraud Prevention Month, a public awareness campaign being led by the Competition Bureau, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and industry partners.

Related: More than half of Canadians believe their government-held personal data is at risk: Accenture study

In general, survey findings indicate Canadians are becoming more vigilant in terms of recognizing, rejecting and reporting fraud and identity theft. Consider that calls by consumers to set up a fraud alert increased by 28% in 2016.

And of those taking preventive measures on their own, 81% have taken two or more of the following steps:

  • double-checked credit card and/or bank statements (65%);
  • shredded personal and/or financial documents (57%);
  • updated security passwords (49%);
  • installed and/or updated security software on personal computer (42%);
  • shared less about themselves on social media (39%);
  • limited use of public WiFi (34%);
  • used cash more often (24%);
  • checked credit report (21%);
  • shopped less online (21%); and
  • used an identity theft product (9%).

CAFC data suggests financial fraud continues to grow unabated, costing victims more than $108 million in 2016, a 15% increase from a year ago, Equifax Canada reports.

“Identity fraud remains the most prevalent type of financial fraud, representing roughly 28% of all fraud victims,” the company statement notes.

Related: Personal and health-related information most desirable breach target, big risk for insurance: KPMG speaker

“Scammers don’t discriminate. They prey on people from all economic backgrounds trying to gain access to their personal information,” cautions Tara Zecevic, Equifax Canada’s vice president of fraud prevention and identity management.

“While financial institutions and credit card companies are getting better every day at helping consumers spot and prevent fraud, the end-consumer must remain vigilant in this fight,” Zecevic emphasizes.

Survey findings include the following:

  • almost half of respondents have been a victim of identity theft or financial fraud;
  • 90% indicate they feel vulnerable to identity theft or financial fraud;
  • online is where 80% report feeling vulnerable;
  • 53% say virus or hacking makes them feel vulnerable;
  • 43% feel vulnerable to personal data security breaches at a retailer; and
  • 41% report feeling vulnerable after losing or having a wallet/purse stolen.

Related: Fears of further personal information exposure following cyberattack would prevent some consumers from shopping at breached retailer: study

“Identity theft and financial fraud are here to stay in a variety of forms,” CAFC manager Staff Sargeant Al Boulianne maintains.

Emphasizing the need for people to properly safeguard their personal information whether on the go or at home, Boulianne says, “this is a good time of year to remind ourselves to recognize offers that are too good to be true and be proactive in monitoring your accounts.”

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