Most people know not to give out personal information to a strange caller or click an unusual link from an unknown source, but a new study suggests Canadians still need to improve their fraud literacy.
In fact, 62 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they are concerned about scams more than ever before, according to a new study from Interac Corp.
“Our study shows that Canadians are being targeted non-stop through a wide range of channels – phone, email, text and social media,” said Rachel Jolicoeur, director, fraud prevention & partnerships at Interac Corp.
“Nearly half of Canadians or their families (48 per cent) report falling victim to fraud, emphasizing the importance of Canadians to stop, scrutinize and speak up to avoid scams.”
According to the Interac Fraud Prevention Index, the most commonly-reported scams nationally include fraudulent emails (45 per cent) and phone scams (44 per cent). Text message fraud is most prevalent in Quebec (44 per cent) and least prevalent in Atlantic Canada (19 per cent). In major cities, Montrealers were most likely to have experienced identity theft (16 per cent) as compared with Torontonians (8 per cent) or Vancouverites (9 per cent).
The index, which drew on responses from over 2,200 Canadians, found that despite high levels of confidence in their ability to spot fraud (71 per cent), many have engaged in risky behaviours.
According to the survey, nearly two in five Canadians have clicked a link from an unknown source (36 per cent).
Regionally, Atlantic Canadians are the most likely to have done so (47 per cent) compared to Quebecers who are the least likely (27 per cent).
The survey says a third of Canadians have accessed online banking on a public WiFi network (33 per cent). Provincially, Albertans are the least likely (24 per cent) to have done this.
Half of Canadians (52 per cent) do not change their online banking or email password regularly, doing so only if prompted, every few years or never at all.
According to the survey, Torontonians and Vancouverites are most likely to have provided personal information over the phone when their call could be overheard by others (26 per cent) compared to Montrealers (17 per cent).
The survey found that Montrealers are less likely than Vancouverites and Torontonians to see buying and selling on online marketplaces as a high-risk activity (48 per cent, 59 per cent and 55 per cent respectively).
Millennials are more likely to see social media as a credible source of fraud education (28 per cent).
The survey also found that seven in 10 Canadians (71 per cent) agree they want to know more about protecting themselves from fraud.
So, what can you do to avoid a scam?
“Take a moment to stop, think and follow your instincts,” the survey says.
“Whether it’s a money transfer you weren’t expecting, or an email asking for your personal information, you should be on the alert. Don’t feel pressured into taking action – a trusted organization will never rush you to respond right away.
The survey also says to assess the situation and look for the telltale signs of a scam.
“Becoming aware of the techniques fraudsters frequently use could be your best defense. Make use of online resources including the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to stay up to date on scams and how to spot them. For example, phishing emails often contain a sender’s email address that does not match the website of the organization it says it’s from,” the survey says.
The survey also says to confirm the validity and report any concerns.
“If you suspect fraud, contact the sender of the communication through a different channel. If you’ve already provided sensitive information to a fraudster, you should immediately contact your bank or financial service provider through the number listed on their website or on the back of your payment card and report to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.”