Social isolation, increased online activities cited as contributing factors to vulnerability

TORONTO, ON–According to a TD Bank survey for this year’s Fraud Prevention Month, more than half of Canadians polled feel vulnerable to financial fraud. 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.

In the 2021 survey, 56% of Canadians believe they could be a target for financial 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 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.

Fraud types and steps Canadians are taking to protect themselves
The survey noted that a majority (78%) of Canadians report that they have been a target by at least one type of attempted fraud in the last year – including attempts that were spotted early and avoided. In the last year, Canadians surveyed were most likely to be contacted by fraudsters via phone (53%), with 36% of respondents calling out the Canada Revenue Agency scam specifically. Phishing or email scams targeted 47% and fraudulent text messages were received by 40% of respondents.

In the first 30 days of 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported Canadians lost more than $10 million to fraud – a 42% increase over the same period last year – with more than 3,300 reported fraud victims.

Canadians are taking steps to protect themselves against fraud. According to the survey:

79% would not give personal information to someone who calls them and claims to be from their credit card company, bank, or the Canada Revenue Agency; 74% would never click on a link in an email that is unfamiliar to them; 72% would not send money to someone they met online; 60% shred their documents before discarding paperwork; and, 57% pay attention to media and information from their bank to help keep well-informed.

“As fraudsters continue to adapt to our new reality, it’s encouraging that the majority of Canadians use more than one tactic to help protect themselves,” continued McKinnon. “The consequences of fraud can be devastating, so it’s vital to remain vigilant and stay informed about common scams to avoid falling victim to 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 – By using free services like TD Fraud Alerts, you’ll receive 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, like the TD MySpend app, can be helpful tools and provide notifications of spending transactions in real-time, making it easier for you to recognize fraudulent transactions fast.

About the TD Fraud Survey
TD Bank Group commissioned Ipsos to conduct a national online survey of 1,001 Canadians aged 18 years and older. Responses were collected between February 19 and 22, 2021. Those categorized as Gen Z are 18 to 23; Millennials are 24 to 39; and Gen Xers are 40 to 55 years of age.

About TD Bank Group
The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Group (“TD” or the “Bank”). TD is the fifth largest bank in North America by assets and serves over 26 million customers in three key businesses operating in a number of locations in financial centres around the globe

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