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Six out of 10 Canadians report they feel more worried about fraud than ever before, and nearly half of Canadians or their families report having been victims of fraud.

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The fraud landscape has transformed and no longer is fraud just the result of stolen wallets or break-ins. Today Canadians are experiencing fraud through multiple channels: in-person, by phone calls, texts and emails, and over public wireless networks.

Canadians recognize the varied ways fraudsters can strike, and 62 per cent worry about it more today than ever before. However, despite their concerns, Canadians continue to engage in behaviours that put them at risk, according to a new national survey from Interac Corp.

For Fraud Prevention Month 2020, the company has released its first Interac Fraud Prevention Index, which surveyed 2,200 Canadians across the country about their attitudes toward fraud and fraud prevention. One key finding: nearly half of respondents or their families (48 per cent) report having been victims of fraud.

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“Our Fraud Prevention Index shows that while Canadians are worried about fraud, they are overestimating how savvy they are when it comes to protecting themselves from scams,” says Rachel Jolicoeur, director of fraud prevention & partnerships at Interac Corp. “Criminals are constantly evolving and developing new, more sophisticated techniques. We need to increase fraud literacy about the different types of fraud and what Canadians can do to protect themselves.”

Across all provinces, the most commonly experienced form of fraud is phishing – typically misleading and deceptive emails that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organization (a bank, business or government agency) and which ask the consumer to surrender private and personal information. This type of scam is becoming more prevalent, not only in Canada, but globally.

According to the survey, 47 per cent of Canadians who have experienced fraud say they have been a victim of phishing, while 46 per cent report they have fallen for phone scams.

“We also found that many Canadians are engaging in online behaviours that make them vulnerable to fraud,” Ms. Jolicoeur says. “For example, despite all the warnings about the risks of conducting online banking on a public WiFi network – we found that one in three Canadians has done it.”

Canadians can stay ahead of email scams by looking for typical “red flags” and by protecting themselves through three steps that Ms. Jolicoeur describes as, “Stop, scrutinize and speak up.

“Stop means don’t rush into responding – take a moment and trust your instincts that something probably isn’t right,” she says. “Scrutinize. Look for warning signs, such as a demand that you act immediately to avoid a bad outcome; criminals count on you to panic.”

Finally, she adds, speak up. If you suspect fraud, contact the legitimate organization through other secure means to determine if the contact was from them, and to ensure you didn’t mistakenly release sensitive information. Report any concerns.

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“Canadians are the first line of defence in preventing fraud, and they have an important role to play when it comes to protecting themselves and their identity online.”

Look for warning signs, such as a demand that you act immediately to avoid a bad outcome; criminals count on you to panic.

— Rachel Jolicoeur Director of Fraud Prevention & Partnerships at Interac Corp.

Rachel Jolicoeur, Director of Fraud Prevention & Partnerships at Interac Corp.

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INTERAC FRAUD PREVENTION INDEX 2020

Experiences with fraud

48%

Share of Canadians or their families victimized by fraud Among those:

47%

Victims of online phishing

46%

Defrauded through phone scams


Risky Digital Behaviours

Almost

2 in 5

Canadians have clicked a link from an unknown source (37 per cent).

1 in 3

Canadians reported changing their online banking or email password only when prompted (35 per cent).

1 in 3

Canadians has accessed online banking on a public WiFi network (34 per cent).

The Interac Fraud Prevention Index is based on a survey of 2,200 Canadians across the country.


Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s Editorial Department was not involved in its creation.

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