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How not to be a victim of financial fraud

We may have grown more accustomed to digital methods of shopping and communicating during the pandemic, but a new survey by TD Bank reveals that 56% of Canadians still believe they’re at risk of being a target for financial fraud.

In fact, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported that Canadians lost over $10 million to fraud in January 2021 alone – an astounding 42 per cent jump compared to January 2020.

A strong majority believe social isolation (84%) contributes to fraud vulnerability, and more than three-quarters (78%) report that they have been targeted by fraudsters in the last year.

Respondents point to social isolation and online behaviours such as sharing too much information on social media as situations that they think heighten the risk of being targeted by fraudsters.

According to respondents, factors that contribute to feeling vulnerable to fraud include loneliness or social isolation (84%), increased online activity such as shopping (82%), and financial hardship or job loss (80%).

“Canadians’ perception of how and why they may be vulnerable to fraudsters reflects the changes in how we live and work in a pandemic,” said Tammy McKinnon, Head of the Financial Crimes & Fraud Management Group at TD. “While isolation and loneliness may play a role, more Canadians are aware that as they spend more of their lives online, they need to be mindful of what they share and take steps to protect themselves.”

Women and social isolation

Women surveyed were more likely to see loneliness and social isolation as factors in being vulnerable to fraud (90%) while 78% of men would agree. Gen Xers, at 89%, are the most likely to point to loneliness as a reason someone would be vulnerable to fraud – 15% higher than Gen Z (74%) and 10% higher than millennial (79%) respondents.

When asked what else contributes to feeling vulnerable to fraud, 89% of respondents believe that being too trusting in general may put Canadians at risk. Sharing too much information on social media was highlighted as a potential risk by 88% of respondents, while 81% stated that simply being too busy to recognize the signs of a scam makes Canadians more vulnerable to attempted fraud.

Yet while 78% of TD survey respondents admit they were targeted by attempted fraud in the past year, many say they are taking necessary precautions to avoid potential scams. Here’s how Ontarians are taking action to protect themselves from fraud:

  • 56% say they use strong passwords and change them regularly
  • 58% pay attention to media/information from their bank and believe themselves to be well informed
  • 60% shred their personal documents before discarding them
  • 76% would never click a link in an email that’s unfamiliar to them
  • 78% would not give their personal information to someone who calls and claims to be from their credit card company, bank, or Revenue Canada
  • 72% wouldn’t send money to someone they met online
  • 54% use tools provided by their bank: like two-factor authentication or fraud alerts

These are just a handful of the actions Ontarians can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from fraud.

For Canadians looking to better protect themselves and their loved ones from falling victim to fraud, TD offers the following tips and advice:

  • Be cautious when it comes to your finances and verify if the request is real– If you receive a phone call claiming to be from a government agency or financial institution requesting confidential information, it could be fraud. Take time to research and verify whether it’s real – call the number on the back of your debit card, or use the organization’s website to find authentic contact information.
  • Have conversations with family and friends– Help protect your loved ones by educating them on the most common scams, such as emergency scams that attempt to coerce grandparents into sending money to a “grandchild” in distress in a foreign country.
  • Pay attention to your fraud alerts – Pay attention to text messages to notify you of suspicious activity on your personal banking accounts.
  • Protect your PIN and passwords – The only person who should know your passwords and PIN is you, not even your family members. Your bank would never ask you for this information. Don’t ever give out personal confidential information, whether in person, over the phone or online.
  • Check your statements, online accounts and banking apps regularly– Taking these steps will help alert you more quickly to fraudulent transactions. Money management apps can be helpful tools and provide notifications of spending transactions in real-time, making it easier for you to recognize fraudulent transactions fast.

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