Businesses Working to Protect Personal Information but Cybersecurity Concerns Linger

There is a sharp drop in the amount of the public expressing concern about identity theft, according to a new survey conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

Two-thirds (66%) of the respondents agree that they are concerned about identity theft but the number is significantly down from 74% in 2016. At the same time, 72% of the survey participants agree that Canadian businesses, in general, are doing the best they can to safeguard the personal information of their customers, up from 66% last year.

However, for the second straight year, 73% of the respondents agree that they are concerned that Canadian businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks regarding personal information.

“In this era of ever-evolving technology and data management challenges, it is good to see an increasing number of Canadians recognizing the efforts that the business community puts into protecting personal information,” says Cairine Wilson, vice-president, corporate citizenship, CPA Canada. “It’s also encouraging that the respondents understand that, while the business community is doing what it can in terms of information protection, risks do remain.”

Almost four-in-ten (39%) of the respondents agree they fear that someone has personal information about them that they should not be in possession of, up from 35% in last year’s survey.

“Fraudsters target many avenues to gain your personal information including social media and emails,” explains Wilson. Of note, the survey found that 81% of the respondents use a mobile device, such as a cellular phone or tablet as one of their sources for accessing the internet, up from 76% just a year ago.

A majority of respondents (71%) agree that they are concerned that electronic payment methods, such as tapping debit and credit cards or using smartphone apps to make payments, actually makes fraud easier.

In addition, 43% of those surveyed in 2017 either strongly or somewhat agree that they are uncomfortable when making online purchases.

In terms of experiencing financial fraud, 32% of the respondents reported they had been a victim at some point in their lives, basically unchanged from 2016 (33%). Among those who reported being a victim of financial fraud, credit card fraud had the highest incidence rate (74%) followed by debit card fraud (28%). Those were the top two forms of fraud cited in 2016 as well.

“Keep your guard up at all times,” stresses Wilson. “Being skeptical is a good thing when it comes to protecting yourself.”

An interesting finding to emerge from the survey is that three quarters (75%) of the participants have learned information about how to protect themselves from fraudulent activities through the news media.

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. Actual or suspected frauds can be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (antifraudcentre.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501).

The 2017 CPA Canada Fraud Survey was conducted by Harris Poll via telephone between January 31st and February 8th 2017, with a national random sample of 1,001 adult Canadians aged 18 years and over and is considered accurate to within ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

(Source: CPA Canada)

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