More Canadians are feeling worried about becoming victims of fraud than ever before as residents in the country lost over $96 million to scammers in 2019, according to a recent survey.
A survey conducted by Interac, a Canadian interbank network linking financial institutions and other enterprises, found that nearly half of all Canadians or their families, 48 per cent, have reportedly fallen victim to fraud. It also found that 62 per cent of Canadians say they are more concerned about fraud now than ever before.
The survey stated that more than half of Canadians say they don't regularly change their online passwords and that that nearly two-in-five Canadians have clicked on an online link from an unknown source.
While Canadians may be more worried, they’re also still generally secretive if fraud happens to them, according to the Competition Bureau, an independent Canadian law enforcement agency.
Spokesperson Josephine Palumbo told CTV News Toronto that one of the problems is that it’s estimated only about five percent of fraud is actually reported.
“There is no shame in reporting fraud. It's one of the best ways to try and help authorities bring down fraudsters,” he said.
Patrick McKeen, CEO Central Ontario Better Business Bureau, told CTV News Toronto that people need to report the incidents in order to address the issue.
“We know that consumers are reluctant to report scams because they feel ashamed because they were victimized and they feel foolish because they should have known better,” he said.
In 2018, Canadians lost $130 million to various scams so the situation does appear to be improving now that the amount dropped to $96 million, according to the The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Many Canadians now have better awareness of the CRA scams, in which a fraudster caller will threaten a person with incarceration if they don’t pay back taxes.
However, Canadians are still getting caught up in scams where they are told to pay off debts using virtually untraceable Bitcoin or gift cards.
The Ontario Securities Commission, a regulatory agency which administers and enforces securities legislation, is also warning investors to be cautious to avoid investment schemes.
Tyler Fleming, the director of the agency’s investor office, said that if someone is promising huge returns with no risk then that should be a “huge red flag we want to warn people about."
The Interac study found that Canadians are being targeted by scammers using phone, email, text and social media.