Canadians express strong concerns about fraud: CPA Canada survey

Canadians are clearly worried about fraud and identity theft according to a new survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

February 21, 2019 – Canadians are clearly worried about fraud and identity theft according to a new survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

Seven in ten respondents surveyed as part of CPA Canada’s 2019 Annual Fraud Study are more concerned about fraud today than they were five years ago. It is essentially the same finding for identity theft, with 69 per cent expressing concern.

However, while the majority of Canadians are familiar with identity theft (86 per cent), credit card fraud (86 per cent), and email and telemarketing fraud (79 and 73 per cent respectively), Canadians’ knowledge of other types of fraud drops drastically. This is particularly true with the dangers posed by cell phone, lottery and mortgage fraud.

More than half (53 per cent) of survey participants report being targeted by email fraud and 44 per cent have experienced bogus telemarketers trying to take advantage of them.

Almost one in five of those surveyed (19 per cent) were aware that they had been the victim of credit card fraud. It’s little wonder then that some Canadians are so concerned about their accounts being compromised that they refuse to use their credit card (39 per cent) or debit cards (36 per cent) with some merchants and establishments. Safeguarding personal information is another worry for the survey participants. Sixty per cent are concerned that the businesses they deal with are vulnerable to cyberattacks. In fact, only 39 per cent of those surveyed think the businesses they deal with are doing enough to protect the personal information of their customers. With that in mind, 65 per cent of the respondents are doing more to protect themselves from being victims of fraud.

“Taking action to thwart fraudsters is to be applauded,” says Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader. “Even as technology advances to make our lives easier with things like thumbprint, voice and facial recognition, we cannot afford to let our guard down. Each of us must continue to be personally diligent because the threat of fraud is constant.”

Many of the survey respondents said that they review banking statements once a month (86 per cent), shred personal documents before disposing of them (79 per cent) and cover the pin pad (71 per cent) when at an ATM or at cash register, but there is room for improvement and additional safeguards.

Canadians access the internet using their personal laptop, computers, cell phones or tablets, but caution should be taken. While personal Wi-Fi is generally great, public Wi-Fi can pose a hazard and only 18 per cent report using a VPN to protect their information. In addition, with many Canadians visiting and buying from retail websites (76 per cent), conducting online banking (75 per cent) and using social media (69 per cent), it is important to understand best practices to stay protected from fraud.

Other key discoveries from the study:

  • 61 per cent memorize their passwords
  • 24 per cent of Canadians write their passwords on a piece of paper
  • 18 per cent of Canadians take advantage of thumbprint identification
  • 15 per cent of Canadians never provide financial information on websites
  • 63 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively, believe that their home address and date of birth are available online
  • Still a small number, but some Canadians believe their voice (15 per cent) and fingerprints (14 per cent) can be found online
  • About one-third of Canadians are aware that there is new federal legislation requiring organizations to report data breaches to the Privacy Commissioner
  • Canadians learn about fraud from many different sources, including news media (54 per cent), family and friends (46 per cent) and tips from financial institutions (43 per cent)

“Stay alert and be aggressive in protecting yourself against fraudsters by seeking the information you need” adds Thompson. “At CPA Canada, we aim to provide Canadians with the tools and the support required to navigate and avoid fraud. Canadians can look to us as a trusted and impartial resource.”  

Nielsen conducted the CPA Canada 2019 Annual Fraud Study via an online questionnaire, from January 18 to 28, 2019 with 2,009 randomly selected Canadian adults, aged 18 years and over, who are members of their online panel. A background document on this study can be found online at: cpacanada.ca/fraud2019.