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Unlikely targets: More young Canadians report being a victim of financial fraud than older Canadians: CPA Canada survey reveals

As scammers across the country become increasingly sophisticated, many Canadians are falling victim to financial fraud – and young Canadians are the most at risk.

Toronto, February 15, 2023 – As scammers across the country become increasingly sophisticated, many Canadians are falling victim to financial fraud – and young Canadians are the most at risk.

Released in time for Fraud Prevention Month in March, the annual Fraud Study by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) found that despite many reports of fraudsters specifically targeting a senior demographic, three-in-five 18-34 year olds (63 per cent) report being a victim of at least one type of financial fraud in their lifetime – a number that drops to 39 per cent for ages 35-54 and 31 per cent for those 55+.

The study also found that credit card fraud remains the leading type of financial fraud at 21 per cent of credit card users, followed by email or phishing fraud (eight per cent) and debit card fraud (eight per cent of debit card users).

“Canadians, especially younger Canadians, are increasingly turning to online services and personal devices to carry out daily activities, making it more important than ever to safeguard private financial information,” says Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada’s financial literacy leader. “The more we’re online, the more we’re opening ourselves up to smart scammers, so extra diligence is required.”

Online banking key target for fraud

It’s no wonder financial scams such as bank impersonation scams and debit and credit card fraud are on the rise. Almost four-in-five of those with debit cards surveyed (78 per cent) report that they conduct their banking online, while 72 per cent of those with credit cards manage them online (viewing balances, making payments, etc.).

Despite virtually all Canadians (97 per cent) having at least one debit and/or credit card, less than half (42 per cent) receive email or text alerts for every transaction on their credit or debit card which can help to identify fraudulent charges more quickly.

“While Canadian banks take steps to notify and protect their customers from fraudsters, we don’t always know who is on the other side of our screens," continues Thompson. “Many scammers use impersonation tactics to pose as a trusted source to steal money or personal information.”

Online shopping scams

As online shopping continues to be a popular way for Canadians to purchase goods, CPA Canada’s Fraud Study found that those aged 18-54 (35 per cent) are almost twice as likely to have made large purchases online, such as household appliances, vacations and vehicles, compared to those aged 55 and over (18 per cent). It is important to read the fine print when providing financial information such as your credit card number.

Prevent, prepare and protect yourself from financial fraud with these tips.

While financial fraud isn’t inevitable, knowing your rights and how your financial institution can help you after an incident is critical. CPA Canada is raising awareness of consumer protection, and shares the following tips to better protect Canadians: 

  1. Know what to do if you are a victim
    If you do become a victim of fraud, gather all information about the incident and contact your financial institutions. Change passwords and report it to your local police and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Don’t be ashamed – telling family and friends might prevent them from becoming a victim, too. Roughly one-in-four fraud victims (27 per cent) admitted to telling family members about it, while an even lower number (22 per cent) disclosed this information to friends. 

  2. Provide financial information only to secure websites
    Almost one-in-four (24 per cent) Canadians admit they aren’t necessarily limited to secure websites when it comes to sharing their personal financial information (those that have a website link that starts with "http", as opposed to "https"). Cyber criminals often use cloned webpages to imitate a legitimate website to steal your banking information. Never use public or unsecured Wi-Fi connections to access sensitive data such as what’s in your bank accounts. Only 26 per cent of Canadians use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi and not doing so could put you at an even greater risk of being hacked. 

  3. Know how you’re protected from unauthorized transactions 
    Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Interac have committed to protecting you against financial loss if someone uses your credit or debit card without your permission if you comply with their policies. You’re responsible, however, for taking reasonable care to keep your account information and Personal Identification Number (PIN) safe. If you did, you may be reimbursed in full. There is a maximum amount you’ll be responsible for if someone uses your credit card without your permission. If a bank issued your credit card, the maximum is $50.

  4. Know your responsibilities when using a credit or debit card
    To receive a full reimbursement when you’ve been a victim of financial loss you will need to comply with the institution’s policies, which include:
    • Notify your card issuer without delay of any unauthorized transaction or a lost or stolen card 
    • Keep your PIN confidential and never share it with anyone, not even a family member
    • Avoid using a PIN that is easy for others to guess, like a birthday or a telephone number

  5. Stay up to date with the latest information
    Educating yourself about fraud prevention and cyber safety can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. CPA Canada offers many free tips and resources to help Canadians stay safe against fraud. Its catalogue of financial literacy sessions is available online, including Fraud Protection workshops and education materials. You can also find more consumer protection tips by following @cpa.canada on Instagram. 

Survey Methodology

Ipsos conducted the CPA Canada 2023 Annual Fraud Survey via an online questionnaire, from January 3 to January 5, 2023, with 2,005 randomly selected Canadian adults, aged 18 years and over, who are members of their online panel. A background document can be found online at: