Canadians lax on checking personal data security, agency warns

Younger adults unsure on how to handle identity theft

Canadians are feeling less vulnerable to identity theft and are becoming lax in checking credit reports to help detect fraud, one Canada’s leading credit-checking agencies says.

Global giant Equifax said Monday that 29% of recent survey respondents checked their credit report as a way of protecting their personal data over the last 12 months.  And, only 38% indicated they would report fraud to a credit bureau.

article continues below

The company found 92% or those surveyed agreed that fraud and identity theft is a serious issue, while also finding Canadians are feeling less vulnerable to fraud online, on the go, at home and in-store.

And that sense of vulnerability is diminishing.

But, agreed Equifax Canada director of consumer advocacy Julie Kuzmic, the case could be an issue of people feeling inundated with cybersecurity information and wondering what they can do in the face of so much.

Earlier surveys found in 2017 and 2019, 80% of survey respondents felt vulnerable to online fraud versus only 72% in 2020.

Of those using systems such as public WiFi or ATMs, the percentage of those feeling vulnerable lowered to 44% compared with 60% in 2017 and 59% in 2019.

At home, 27% of survey respondents felt vulnerable versus 37% in 2019 and 33% in 2017.

“Hackers, fraudsters and identity thieves are always on the hunt to get your personal information,” Equifax Canada director of consumer advocacy Julie Kuzmic, said. “We can’t be complacent about this and one of the best ways to spot identity theft is by checking credit reports for unrecognized activities, which may provide an indication that someone has been applying for credit in your name or fraudulently accessing your accounts.

Kuzmic said she is particularly concerned for younger adults who may be misinformed about identity theft.

The survey found a greater number of millennials would not know how to address identity theft, have clicked on fraudulent email links, don’t worry about credit card fraud as they won’t be charged or believe they won’t be targeted because they don’t have enough money, don’t check bank or credit card statements, and are less likely to change social media passwords as needed.

Anyone concerned about fraud and identity theft should place an identity alert or fraud warning on their credit file, which may help to prevent future fraudulent use of their identity.

Kuzmic said any potential identity data breach theft should be reported to banks, credit card companies and police as well as to the credit bureaus for flagging.

And, she warned, vigilance should not be limited to the digital realm. Shred documents being disposed of, she stressed.

Equifax itself has not been immune to cyberattacks. U.S. authorities have charged four Chinese military officers over the huge cyberattack on the credit-rating giant.

Some 147 million Americans as well as Canadians and U.K. residents were affected in 2017 when hackers stole personal data including addresses and names.

In February U.S. charged four Chinese military officers in the case.

 

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo

 

© Kamsack Times

Read more from the Glacier Media