Polls Show One in Three Canadians Have Been Fraud Victims, Online Shopping Causes Concern

28 April 2015

According to two recently released polls from major Canadian financial organizations, credit card fraud is a serious concern for most Canadians. In fact, according to one of the surveys, almost one in three Canadians has been a victim of financial fraud at some point during their lifetime, with credit card and debit card fraud making up the majority of these cases and online fraud growing as a concern.

In a recent survey conducted by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), 32 percent of respondents said that they had been victimized by some form of financial fraud. Among those who had been victimized, 67 percent had experienced credit card fraud, and 29 percent had been the victims of debit card fraud. These statistics were consistent with results from a similar survey conducted by CPA Canada in 2014.

However, perhaps the most notable result of this survey is the increasing prevalence of online fraud. Sixteen percent of people who had been victimized by fraud said that it took place online. For perspective, only 6 percent of respondents who had been victimized in 2014 said that it occurred online.

Cairine Wilson, vice president of corporate citizenship for CPA Canada, said in a statement, “In this electronic era, accessing information and doing business online is easy. But Canadians need to recognize that with the convenience there is also risk. Being armed with enough knowledge to identify the potential risk is what’s going to help you navigate the rapid advances in online fraud.”

Along with this jump in online fraud has come increasing levels of caution when making online purchases. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents in the CPA Canada survey said that they felt “uncomfortable” when purchasing items online, and this number increased with the age of the respondents, with older survey participants much more concerned about online shopping than younger ones. Moreover, 70 percent of those surveyed said they are “very concerned” about identity theft, with 47 percent fearing that their identity might currently be in the wrong hands.

These findings are consistent with those uncovered in a second recent survey, conducted by Visa Canada. According to this survey, Canadians are more concerned with security in online purchasing, ranking it higher than speed and convenience on their list of priorities. Sixty-six percent of survey respondents ranked the security of their card details and personal information as the most important factor in their shopping experience. Forty-seven percent expressed worry that their details would be used for credit card fraud when making online purchases, a remarkably similar finding to the 48 percent who are uncomfortable making online purchases according to the CPA Canada survey.

However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel in these surveys in the form of the new Chip and PIN system, which has been adopted by most Canadian banks. Chip and PIN cards are designed to be more secure than traditional credit and debit cards, storing their information on EMV microchips that require the user to enter a PIN in order to use the card. This prevents thieves from being able to simply steal and use the card on their own, unless they know the PIN, and also thwarts many common fraud techniques like card skimming.

Seven in 10 respondents in the Visa Canada survey said that they considered Chip and PIN card purchases to be secure, while only 8 percent thought they were still not secure enough.

For increased confidence when making purchases online, consider subscribing to a credit monitoring service to alert you to certain kinds of activity in your accounts.