Canadians concerned about protection of personal information
Toronto - Three quarters (75 per cent) of those participating in a new survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) are more concerned about fraud today than they were five years ago.
Among the survey's findings, respondents are leery about online shopping and the protection of personal information when using social media or email.
"Being skeptical is a good thing and remaining on guard is a must," says Cairine Wilson, vice-president, corporate citizenship, CPA Canada.
The survey participants are indeed skeptical, with 44 per cent of the respondents who have access to the Internet claiming they are uncomfortable making online purchases. Twenty-six per cent of those surveyed do not spend anything on online purchases, while 20 per cent spend $1,000 or more online in an average year.
The need for vigilance is evident with 35 per cent of the respondents fearing that someone has personal information about them that they should not be in possession of. In addition, of those who have access to the Internet:
• Seventeen per cent say they had corresponded, either through social media or email, with someone who had misrepresented their true identity.
• Fourteen per cent stated that someone had gained access to one of their email accounts without permission.
• Eight per cent said the same thing about a social media account.
The survey participants are also worried about possible cyber-attacks. Roughly three in four respondents (73 per cent) are concerned that their personal information is at risk because they believe Canadian businesses are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. However, most respondents (66 per cent) think that Canadian businesses, in general, are doing the best they can to safeguard personal information.
In terms of experiencing financial fraud, 33 per cent of the respondents reported they had been a victim at some point in their lives, basically unchanged from 2015. Among victims of fraud, credit card fraud had the highest incidence rate (65 per cent) followed by debit card fraud (31 per cent). They were the top two forms of fraud cited in 2015 as well.
"The good news emerging from the survey findings is that Canadians are fighting back against fraud," adds Wilson.
In the survey, 75 per cent of the respondents agreed that they are doing more to prevent themselves from being a victim of fraud when compared with five years ago. Some simple but important actions are being taken. For example:
• Eighty-six per cent of those who have access to the Internet and have a debit/credit card use passwords that contain letters, numbers and symbols for websites that include financial information.
• Eighty per cent of respondents who have a credit or debit card say they always shred statements that list credit or debit card numbers.
• Seventy-three per cent always lock their mobile device when not in use.
"Every single precaution helps," explains Wilson. "It is important to execute continued vigilance to stop fraud before it happens."
To help consumers recognize, avoid and report fraud, CPA Canada published Protecting You and Your Money: A Guide to Avoiding Identity Theft and Fraud. The book is available for ordering at cpacanada.ca/financialliteracypublications
March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. Actual or suspected frauds can be reported at antifraudcentre.ca or by calling toll free 1-888-495-8501.
The 2016 CPA Canada Fraud Survey was conducted by Harris Poll via telephone between January 28 and February 11, 2016, with a national random sample of 1,005 adult Canadians aged 18 years and over and is considered accurate to within ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.