- 73% of Canadians report receiving online fraudulent requests.
- As of February 2021, Canadians lost $34.6 million to fraud.
- What to do if you are a victim of identity theft or fraud.
As cybercrime continues to flourish, growing increasingly lucrative and prevalent every year, how can Canadian consumers protect themselves and their digital assets? Is the answer adding some form of cybersecurity protection enhancement to your home insurance or condo insurance policy?
According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, almost three-quarters of Canadians (73%) report having received fraudulent requests, and one out of three (33%) say they had fallen victim to one or more types of fraud at some point in their lives.
In 2020, Canadians lost $107.5 million to fraud, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). Fast-forward to February 28, 2021, and the CAFC says there were a total of 11,266 reports of fraud and 7,646 victims of fraud, totalling losses of $34.6 million.
Additionally, data from Equifax Canada finds 78% of Canadians feel vulnerable as a target for online fraud, with 57% of millennials (people born between 1981 and 1995) admitting they don’t know what to do if someone stole their identity and committed fraud in their name. Comparably, 49% of Canadians aged 35 or older say they don’t know what to do if it happened to them.
Although basic coverage for identity theft and online fraud is widely available as part of a home insurance policy and has been for about a decade, condo dwellers and homeowners may not be aware of them.
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How can I protect myself from identity theft?
With your home or condo insurance policy, most insurers will offer the option to add additional coverage for identity theft and legal expenses. Others may also provide coverage if you suffer a cyberattack on your computing and connected devices, are a victim of ransomware, or a data breach. However, not all insurance companies provide these protection levels, plus you have to ask your insurance agent or broker to add it to your policy.
You can learn more about how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft online through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
How can I protect myself from credit card fraud?
Your best defence against credit card fraud is to make it difficult for a crook to rip you off. Safeguard your credit card number and its personal identification number (PIN) like you would cash. Don’t loan your credit card to anyone or share your account number over the phone or online unless you initiate the transaction with a company you know is reputable.
Credit card providers and other financial institutions will provide their customers with varying levels of credit and debit card fraud protection. However, take the time to explore your options thoroughly.
If you are a victim of credit card fraud, in many cases, your maximum liability cannot exceed $50 by law. Surf to the Financial Consumer Agency Services’ website for more information about your rights and protection against unauthorized credit and debit card transactions.
How can I protect myself from cybercrime?
Protecting oneself from all types of cybercrime requires being committed to taking the necessary preventative measures. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police provides resources consumers can access.
If you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and the two national credit bureaus in Canada: TransUnion Canada and Equifax Canada.
In the meantime, consider taking these steps:
- Use strong passwords and change them at least annually.
- Install a firewall, antivirus, and antispyware software on your computer or laptop.
- Be wise using social media and don’t overshare.
- Back up all data on your computers and mobile phones regularly.
- Keep your computer and mobile phone operating systems up-to-date.
- Do not open emails or click on links in emails from sources or people you do not know.
- Periodically check all of your banking and credit card statements. Immediately report any entries you do not recognize to your bank or credit card provider.
- If you move, notify Canada Post, your bank, and your credit card provider of your new residential mailing address.
- Talk to your broker or insurer about adding identity theft and online fraud protection to your home insurance, condo insurance, or tenant insurance policy if you don’t already have it.