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Canadians feeling more vulnerable to fraud than ever before, survey says, but majority fighting back

( / Kevin Ku) ( / Kevin Ku)

Canadians are feeling more vulnerable to fraudsters and identity theft than ever before, according to a new survey that shows that most are taking steps to fight back.

The survey by Equifax Canada, results of which were released ahead of Fraud Prevention Month, found that as many as 97 per cent of Canadians surveyed feel vulnerable to fraud.

But the survey also found that more people than ever are fighting back, with 94 per cent saying they've taken least one action to better protect their personal data.

That figure significantly has increased from the 87 per cent who'd said they'd made efforts in 2022, Equifax said.

Fraud Prevention Month (March) is an annual campaign meant to help Canadians recognize, reject and report fraud, according to the Government of Canada.

“This year’s theme, 'Tricks of the trade: What’s in a fraudster's toolbox?' will help Canadians recognize the increasingly sophisticated tricks and tools scammers use to entrap victims,” the federal government says.

Equifax released its polling data earlier this week, saying it's encouraging to see that people are taking action.

"Since fraudsters often target people who make it easy for them, we encourage everyone to continue to be vigilant and take steps to protect their personal data,” said Julie Kuzmic, Equifax Canada’s senior compliance officer - consumer advocacy, in a news release.


As for what those steps are, the survey suggested avoiding answering calls from unknown numbers or hanging up immediately was the most common response, with 67 per cent of those polled saying this is something they do.

Double-checking their credit card and bank statements is another of the most common steps Canadians have taken to fight back against fraud, Equifax said, with 63 per cent saying they do this.

The survey found that roughly half of the respondents have taken additional steps to protect their personal information, including shredding documents (55 per cent), sharing less on social media (48 per cent), and using two-step password authentication (48 per cent).

Limiting the use of public Wi-Fi (39 per cent), checking their credit reports (33 per cent), and installing or updating security software on their computers (31 per cent) were other steps Canadians have taken, according to the survey.


When it comes to social media, respondents said Facebook specifically raises red flags, with 42 per cent believing it poses the highest risk of fraud. Nearly eight-in-10 said they believe social media use in general increases the potential of being targeted by fraudsters and identity thieves through cyberattacks, scams, phishing and data breaches.

According to the survey, almost half of Canadians said they’ve noticed more suspicious or fraudulent links from their social media accounts, and 18 per cent admitted they clicked on a fraudulent link in their feeds.


Data from Equifax shows that 85 per cent of surveyed respondents feel most vulnerable when they are online.

Breaking down the data based on gender, women were slightly more likely to feel vulnerable as potential targets of fraud, at 88 per cent, compared to 82 per cent of men.

The survey results suggested people in Quebec significantly feel less vulnerable to many types of fraud, when compared to those in the rest of Canada.

For example, 19 per cent of Quebecers said they feel vulnerable when they use social media, while this figure is 30 per cent in other areas. When using Wi-Fi outside the home, 22 per cent of Quebec residents said they felt vulnerable to fraud or identity theft, versus 30 per cent elsewhere.


“Fraud and identity theft are serious issues that can have devastating impacts on people financially and emotionally,” added Kuzmic. “Our survey highlights the need for increased awareness and protection against fraud, particularly for those who do not take this type of crime seriously and those in certain regions who may be less aware of the risks.”

Although the survey suggests most Canadians are taking steps to protect their personal data, the results also found that at the same time, they expect the government and businesses to do more, Equifax said.

Most respondents (92 per cent) believe that penalties for identity theft and fraud should be increased, and 86 per cent said the government should do a better job of educating people on how to protect their personal data.

Eighty-two per cent of respondents said companies that do not have adequate security measures should be penalized.

Survey methodology: Equifax surveyed 1,000 Canadians ages 18 to 65, between Feb. 1 and 8. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting for this story was paid for through The Afghan Journalists in Residence Project funded by Meta. Top Stories

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