March is Fraud Prevention Month and Canadians appear to be increasingly savvy about this issue. The following is a media release from Equifax that includes information and statistics about how the public has been combating this type of fraud:
Calls by consumers to set up a fraud alert increased by 28 per cent in 2016 according to new data released by Equifax Canada.
Equifax shared the data in support of Fraud Prevention Month, a public awareness campaign being led by the Competition Bureau, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and industry partners, which encourages people to recognize, reject and report fraud in all its forms.
Data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also suggests that financial fraud continues to grow unabated, costing victims over $108 million in 2016, a 15 per cent increase from a year ago. Identity fraud remains the most prevalent type of financial fraud, representing roughly 28 per cent of all fraud victims.
“Scammers don’t discriminate. They prey on people from all economic backgrounds trying to gain access to their personal information,” said Tara Zecevic, Equifax Canada’s Vice President of Fraud Prevention & Identity Management. “Sometimes it could be a sophisticated hack of your data, while other times it could be as simple as someone stealing your mail or your wallet.
“While financial institutions and credit card companies are getting better every day at helping consumers spot and prevent fraud, the end consumer must remain vigilant in this fight,” Zecevic urges. “Credit card fraud can be identified by checking a statement, but in the case of someone taking out a loan in your name — that’s a lot more difficult. That’s identity fraud and the best way to detect it early is through more regular monitoring of your credit report.”
Broadly speaking, Canadians are indeed fighting back in recognizing, rejecting and reporting fraud.
In a consumer survey commissioned by Equifax, almost all Canadians (91 per cent) have taken steps to better protect their personal information and 81 per cent have taken two or more of the following steps:
- Double-checked credit card and/or bank statements (65 per cent)
- Shredded personal and/or financial documents (57 per cent)
- Updated my security passwords (49 per cent)
- Installed and/or updated security software on my personal computer (42 per cent)
- Shared less about myself on social media (39 per cent)
- Limited my use of public WiFi (34 per cent)
- Used cash more often (24 per cent)
- Checked my credit report (21 per cent)
- Shopped less online (21 per cent)
- Used an identity theft product (9 per cent)
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While nearly half of Canadians have been a victim of identity theft or financial fraud, the vast majority (90 per cent) indicated that they feel vulnerable to this type of crime. Online is where most said they feel vulnerable (80 per cent) and more than half (53 per cent) stated virus or hacking makes them feel vulnerable. Canadians also feel vulnerable to personal data security breaches at a retailer (43 per cent), and losing or having a wallet / purse stolen (41 per cent).
“I’m afraid that identity theft and financial fraud are here to stay in a variety of forms,” said Staff Sargeant Al Boulianne, Manager of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. “To avoid becoming a victim, we encourage people to properly safeguard their personal information whether they are on-the-go or at home. This is a good time of year to remind ourselves to recognize offers that are too good to be true and be proactive in monitoring your accounts. Above all else, report any fraudulent activity when you spot it. Follow #FPM2017 throughout March to learn more about fraud and how to prevent it.”
Equifax surveyed 1,569 Canadians ages 18-65. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
Equifax powers the financial future of individuals and organizations around the world. Using the combined strength of unique trusted data, technology and innovative analytics, Equifax has grown from a consumer credit company into a leading provider of insights and knowledge that helps its customers make informed decisions. The company organizes, assimilates and analyzes data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide, and its databases include employee data contributed from more than 6,600 employers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs approximately 9,400 employees worldwide.
Some noteworthy achievements for the company include: Ranked 13 on the American Banker FinTech Forward list (2015); named a Top Technology Provider on the FinTech 100 list (2004-2015); named an InformationWeek Elite 100 Winner (2014-2015); named a Top Workplace by Atlanta Journal Constitution (2013-2015); named one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies (2011-2015); named one of Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies (2015). For more information, visit www.equifax.com.