Interac survey shows despite reporting increased fraud attempts, Canadians, particularly younger generations, are becoming more scam savvy
Toronto, March 1, 2021 – COVID-19 is causing Canadians to feel more concerned about fraud. According to a new survey from Interac Corp., over half (55 per cent) of Canadians worry increased isolation is making people more susceptible to fraud. This concern contributes to heightened feelings of worry, with nearly six in 10 (58 per cent) Canadians reporting the pandemic has increased stress levels, providing additional points of vulnerability for fraudsters to exploit.
“As Canadians enter the second year of COVID-19 we examined the impacts of these pressures on their fraud defences to provide tips on how to prevent emerging scams heightened by the pandemic,” said Rachel Jolicoeur, Director, Fraud Mitigation and Strategy at Interac Corp. “While we anticipated the isolation, financial hardship, and stress from the pandemic would impact Canadians’ defenses against fraud, we were surprised to see many groups feeling confident in how they spot scams, despite the rise in fraud during these tough times.”
Key survey findings:
- Close to six in 10 (57 per cent) Canadians have seen fraud attempts increase this year.
- Alongside isolation, more than half (52 per cent) believe there is greater risk of fraud due to more time spent engaging in online activities like virtual learning, banking, accessing government services, shopping, and socializing virtually due to pandemic restrictions.
- This additional screen time is exposing tech savvy generations to the impacts of fraud. In fact, Gen Z adults (18-24 year olds) are the most likely to report that they themselves, someone close to them, or both, have fallen victim to fraud this year (52 per cent), alongside Millennials (53 per cent).
- Interestingly, by comparison, only 30 per cent of seniors (65+) reported they or someone close to them had fallen victim to fraud this year.
“People are feeling particularly anxious, stressed, and preoccupied as a result of COVID-19 as our sense of normalcy has been disrupted. Additional stressors and pressures, including health, family, work, debt, isolation, loneliness, and general uncertainty make it harder to spot and resist a clever fraud attempt,” said Dr. Christine Purdon, a psychologist from the University of Waterloo who focuses on the persistence of anxiety and its cognitive and behavioural indicators. “Stress and anxiety put us into fight or flight mode, maximizing our potential to respond quickly to a threat. However, this can lead us to make decisions more quickly and with less deliberation – something fraudsters know and act on.”
Despite these worries, Canadians of all generations believe they have the information needed to spot a fraud attempt, with Gen Z appearing to be most resilient in their efforts to combat fraud. Although this generation reports feeling frustrated, stressed, and anxious after fraud experiences, over three in four (77 per cent) now feel more confident in their ability to spot scams, and nearly six in 10 (59 per cent) see themselves as more cautious as a result of past experiences.
“COVID-19 has placed new pressures on Canadians, but they remain vigilant in their attempts to combat these crimes,” said Jolicoeur. “Over half (57 per cent) report they are eager to learn more about how to protect themselves. This is encouraging news as Canadians are the first line of defence in fraud prevention. At Interac, we focus on three tips to do this: stopping, scrutinizing, and speaking up to avoid scams.”
STOP: Don’t feel pressured into taking action if you receive a request for personal information that you weren’t expecting – make it a habit to stop and think rather than quickly respond. Our survey showed that phone calls, emails and texts asking for personal information are the most prevalent. With so much of Canadians’ lives now online, combined with feeling isolated and vulnerable due to COVID-19, it’s particularly important to take a moment to stop, breathe, think, and follow your instincts.
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 and report any concerns. Recognize that you are not alone. There are resources that can help you recognize and respond to fraud attempts. 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.
About the Survey
Interac commissioned Hill+Knowlton Strategies to conduct a national online survey of 2,200 adult residents of Canada in February 2021. The sample was randomly drawn from a panel of potential survey respondents (Leger Opinion). Post-stratification weights were applied to the sample based on 2016 census population parameters to ensure representation by province of Canada, age, gender, and major city (GVA, Calgary/Edmonton, GTA, Montreal). An associated margin of error for a probability-based sample of this size would be ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
About Interac Corp.
Interac Corp. empowers Canadians to transact digitally with confidence by providing payment and value exchange services rooted in security, reliability, and efficiency. As a leader in digital security and authentication alongside our subsidiary, 2Keys Corporation, security is the core of everything we do. Through our world-class privacy, fraud mitigation and governance expertise, we help keep Canadian customers safe and secure when transacting with Interac. With nearly 300 financial institutions connected to our network, Canadians choose Interac products an average of 18 million times a day to pay and exchange money. Interac is committed to championing workplace culture and corporate citizenship based on the principles of responsibility, diversity and inclusion. We are proud to be one of Canada’s leading and most trusted financial brands. For more information, visit newsroom.interac.ca
For further information
Media Contact: Interac Corp., 416-869-2017, firstname.lastname@example.org
Interac is a registered trade-mark of Interac Corp.
Tips and guidelines stated above are for informational purposes only and are not to be treated, or relied upon, as legal advice or opinion. Canadians should check directly with their financial institution for their specific process on how to report suspected fraud.