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Eight in 10 Canadians facing fraud fatigue while some risky digital behaviours mount

More information held by fraudsters and increasingly sophisticated fraud attempts highlight the need to stay alert

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online fraud fatigue

Fraud fatigue is wearing Canadians down. A new survey from Interac Corp. shows that more than eight in 10 Canadians (86 per cent) are tired of receiving fraud attempts, which occur with alarming regularity – at least once a week for more than half of Canadians (53 per cent). Identity fraud is a concern with nearly eight in 10 (78 per cent) saying Canadians lack information on protecting their identity data online. Almost half (47 per cent) believe their information is at greater risk of fraud now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadians may be unknowingly providing personal information through social media posts, gaming or entertainment apps, online marketplaces or through email that can be collected and used by fraudsters in scams. The sophistication of fraud attempts is compounding the threat. Nearly four in 10 Canadians (38 per cent) have experienced a scam where the fraudster used personal information to appear as a trusted source, including their full name (61 per cent), address (27 per cent), and date of birth (12 per cent). This practice is used to create a false sense of security and highlights the importance of safeguarding sensitive personal information.

“We spend our lives online: using gaming applications, browsing social media, and chatting with friends and family members on multiple platforms – these activities require personal information which may be vulnerable to access by fraudsters taking advantage of unaware Canadians,” says Rachel Jolicoeur, Director, Fraud Mitigation & Strategy, Interac Corp. “Our research reveals that, in our increasingly digital world, many Canadians have behaved in ways that may make them more vulnerable to cybercriminals who are attempting to access their digital data and then use it to try to scam Canadians.”

Jolicoeur added that the Interac research underlines the importance of Canadians practicing good digital hygiene to protect against fraud, and offered these tips:

  • Stay savvy on social media: do not share identifying details such as home address or licence plate number in social media posts. Nearly one in four Canadians (23 per cent) are not scrutinizing the personal information they post on social media.
  • Layer security: adopt multi-factor authentication where possible and review statements for fraud. Eight in 10 Canadians (81 per cent) are reviewing their bank statements for instances of fraud and two thirds (66 per cent) are opting to use multi-factor authentication when available.
  • Check your passwords: use multiple, complex passwords across often-used websites. Nearly three in 10 Canadians (27 per cent) continue to use the same, simple passwords across multiple websites.

“While industry has a role to play in delivering solutions to improve the safety of Canadians and their data, we also need to empower the public with the tools and education they need to protect themselves. As digital shifts take hold and the fight against fraud escalates, Canadians can take action to protect their security online,” added Jolicoeur.

To help counter fraud fatigue, Interac has made a Digital Check-up tool available to Canadians.  It encourages digital self-care and helps consumers to keep a close eye on the strength of their data security, harnessing the advice of industry experts. As a matter of course, Canadians should operate with the following in mind when faced with a suspected fraud attempt:

  • STOP: Don’t feel pressured into responding if you receive a request for personal information that you weren’t expecting. Our survey showed that fraudsters are increasingly trying to impersonate trusted sources to create a false sense of security and comfort that may convince a target to part with sensitive personal information. Where available, customers should use multi-factor authentication if offered by the provider, as well as take advantage of bank authenticated solutions when it comes to government services. This adds a layer of security.
  • SCRUTINIZE: Assess the situation and look for the telltale signs of a scam. Make use of online resources like the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to stay up to date on scams and how to spot them.
  • SPEAK UP: Confirm the validity of the communication and report any concerns. If you suspect fraud, contact the sender of the communication through a different channel to verify it’s real. If you’ve already provided sensitive information, immediately contact your financial service provider and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Report to law enforcement and update your online passwords for further protection.