Study indicates fear over online fraud has risen since pandamec began

COVID increasing fraud?

As fraud prevention month kicks off across Canada. New data indicates over half of Canadians worry COVID-19 isolation and increased time online are making people more susceptible to fraud.

A survey conducted by, Interac Corp. shows COVID-19 is creating additional points of vulnerability for fraudsters to exploit.

The survey shows 55 per cent of Canadians worry increased isolation is making people more susceptible to fraud and this concern contributes to heightened feelings of worry, with nearly six in 10 Canadians, 58 per cent, reporting the pandemic has increased stress levels.

According to RCMP, between last March, and January 2021 there were over 11,500 reports of COVID-9 related fraud in Canada, and over 7 million dollars lost. Close to 10,000 people have been victimized just in relation to the pandemic alone.

“People are feeling particularly anxious, stressed, and preoccupied as a result of COVID-19 as our sense of normalcy has been disrupted. Additional stressors and pressures, including health, family, work, debt, isolation, loneliness, and general uncertainty make it harder to spot and resist a clever fraud attempt,” said Dr. Christine Purdon, a psychologist from the University of Waterloo who focuses on the persistence of anxiety and its cognitive and behavioural indicators. “Stress and anxiety put us into fight or flight mode, maximizing our potential to respond quickly to a threat. However, this can lead us to make decisions more quickly and with less deliberation – something fraudsters know and act on.”

There is some good news. The survey indicates that 57 per cent of those questioned who feel fraud attempts have increased say they also believe people are becoming more scam savvy.

Generation Z, colloquially known as zoomers, is the demographic group who come after Millennials and they are leading the way when it comes to feeling confident in their ability to spot scams.

Although Gen Z reports feeling frustrated as well, 66 per cent, stressed, 59 per cent, and anxious, 43 per cent, after fraud experiences, 77 per cent, the highest of any generation, also say they now feel more confident in their ability to spot scams.

Other key survey findings:

  • Close to six in 10 Canadians have seen fraud attempts increase this year.
  • Alongside isolation, more than half believe there is greater risk of fraud due to more time spent engaging in online activities like virtual learning, banking, accessing government services, shopping, and socializing virtually due to pandemic restrictions.
  • This additional screen time is exposing tech savvy generations to the impacts of fraud. In fact, Gen Z adults (18-24 year olds) are the most likely to report that they themselves, someone close to them, or both, have fallen victim to fraud this year (52 per cent), alongside Millennials (53 per cent).
  • Interestingly, by comparison, only 30 per cent of seniors (65+) reported they or someone close to them had fallen victim to fraud this year.

Interac Copr. commissioned Hill+Knowlton Strategies to conduct this national online survey of 2,200 adult residents of Canada in February 2021.

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