Consumers and businesses are being forced to fend off fraud attempts more often, with some people getting so bombarded that they’ve become afraid to even answer their phones.
Digital fraud is climbing, with close to half of Canadians saying they’ve been targeted by a scamming attempt recently, according to research from TransUnion Canada.
Businesses are also getting targeted, and scamming attempts originating in Canada against companies around the world have risen 40 per cent in the first six months of 2023, compared to the same time frame in 2022, TransUnion said.
Some industries are getting hit more than others. The telecommunications sector has experienced a 400 per cent increase in fraud attempts since last year, TransUnion said. Insurance companies have also been targeted more often, with suspected digital fraud attempts up 90 per cent.
Online communities, such as dating sites and forums, are also grappling with a rise in scammers, with suspected fraud climbing 75 per cent from last year.
Overall, the rate of suspected digital fraud in Canada is 4.5 per cent, an increase from 3.2 per cent in 2022, TransUnion said.
On the consumer side, the internet has become a virtual minefield of scamming tactics that people must navigate. Many complain they’re getting targeted online via nefarious emails, websites and social media posts most often, in a practice known as “phishing.” But “vishing,” or scam phone calls designed to trick people into revealing sensitive information, is also a big problem with 43 per cent of Canadians saying they’ve been targeted via phone call in the last three months.
It’s enough to turn people off picking up the phone at all. In the United States, such scam calls are so prevalent that seven out of 10 people say they’ve stopped answering their phones for fear of being tricked, according to separate TransUnion research. As a result, many end up missing out on important calls in a lose-lose situation for both consumers and the businesses trying to reach them.
Meanwhile, fraudsters aren’t letting an unanswered phone call stop them from deploying their schemes. Text message scams, or “smishing,” are prevalent, too, and 41 per cent of Canadians say they’ve gotten such texts in the last three months.
On the bright side, it doesn’t appear very many Canadians are falling for all these fraud attempts. TransUnion said six per cent of people targeted by fraudsters have been tricked into revealing sensitive information. Still, that doesn’t mean people should assume they’re not at risk of falling victim.
“Given the prevalence of fraudulent scams targeting Canadians, and the reality that fraudsters are ever more sophisticated and are constantly evolving to attempt to over come digital security measures, it’s critical that Canadians take steps to protect themselves,” Patrick Boudreau, head of identity management and fraud solutions at TransUnion Canada, said in a news release.
TransUnion suggests people regularly monitor their credit scores, keep an eye on banking and credit card statements, use unique passwords and memorize them to avoid writing them down, and shred sensitive receipts and bills, among other protection measures.
“From safeguarding sensitive information, to protecting physical wallets and cards, and leveraging credit report monitoring, there are a number of easy steps consumers can undertake day to day,” Boudreau said.