Many Canadians are worried fraud will intensify if a recession hits, with 66 per cent believing it will be worse than during the pandemic, according to a new study by Royal Bank of Canada.
Royal Bank’s Fraud Prevention Month poll, which interviewed 1,504 Canadians, found that 42 per cent think it will be harder to spot scams during a recession than during the pandemic. It makes sense, then, that the vast majority (78 per cent) believe the recession will increase everyone’s risk of fraud.
Part of the reason is because three-quarters of respondents feel it is easier to fall victim to a scam when you’re struggling financially. Meanwhile, another 36 per cent are too worried about other things to be concerned about fraud.
“It’s understandable that people have a lot on their minds and don’t want to think about fraud, but scams are getting harder to spot and fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated,” Kevin Purkiss, vice-president of fraud management at RBC, said in a press release. “We’ve seen a strong correlation between increased fraud and economic slowdowns, which means Canadians need to stay vigilant about reducing their risk.”
Another reason is apathy about fraud risk among most Canadians, with 86 per cent tired of having to be on the lookout for scams and 52 per cent content to share personal data online for convenience. Examples include the 23 per cent who are quick to share personal data to get access to an offer, website, app or service.
Overall, 40 per cent of Canadians admit to sharing more information online than they should. However, some are still unbothered, with 23 per cent thinking fraud is something that happens to other people, but not them, and 26 per cent having never been worried about falling for a scam.
“The reality is that anyone can fall victim to a scam, even tech-savvy young Canadians,” Purkiss said. “As we are online more than ever, it’s especially important to be careful about the information we are sharing, as cunning criminals often look to piece together all the details to help make their scams more successful.”
Most Canadians (71 per cent) are also worried it will be harder to spot signs of fraud as they get older, while some (32 per cent) are concerned they have already started to miss the signs. Indeed, 67 per cent find it harder than ever to tell when an email, text or online ad is a scam. As a result, the majority of Canadians’ first instinct is to assume every email, phone call and text from a company or organization is a scam.
Still, missing signs of fraud costs Canadians, with 23 per cent admitting to being a victim of a scam or fraud. Some (14 per cent) have lost money in a scam, while others (18 per cent) have had to deal with fraudsters gaining access to their personal or financial information. On average, respondents have lost $400 to fraud but an unlucky six per cent have lost more than $10,000.
And it’s not just individuals being targeted by fraudsters. Cisco Systems Inc.’s cybersecurity readiness index found that a mere nine per cent of Canadian businesses are ready to defend against today’s modern cybersecurity threats and 77 per cent expect a cybersecurity incident to disrupt their business in the next couple of years.
“The gap is only going to widen if Canadian businesses don’t act quickly,” Robert Barton, Cisco Canada’s chief technology officer, said in a press release.
For tips to protect yourself from cyberattacks and more, check out Financial Post’s Safety Net cybersecurity project.