Seventy-one per cent of Canadians are concerned about identity theft, up from 66 per cent last year, according to an annual fraud survey commissioned by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

In addition, the survey found that 76 per cent of respondents fear Canadian businesses are vulnerable to cyber attacks regarding their personal data, up from 73 per cent last year. Meanwhile, 68 per cent believe Canadian businesses are doing their best to safeguard the personal information of customers, down from 72 per cent in 2017. Thirty-nine per cent of those surveyed fear their personal information has been compromised.

Constant threat of fraud

"Canadians are living more of their lives online and companies face significant challenges associated with gathering, managing and protecting information," says Doretta Thompson, director, corporate citizenship, CPA Canada. "In today's ever-evolving economy, change is rapid, and the threat of fraud is constant. Canadians are strongly encouraged to be aggressive in protecting themselves against fraud."

The survey also found that 68 per cent of respondents believe electronic payment methods, like tapping credit and debit cards and using smartphone apps, facilitate fraud. Four in ten participants feel uncomfortable making online purchases.

Check bank statements regularly

"Use trusted websites, reputable payment processors and check your bank or credit card statements regularly for discrepancies," says Thompson. "You are your own best gatekeeper when it comes to protecting your personal information. Be extremely cautious about what information you share online. Fraudsters are always looking for personal data."

Thirty-five per cent of the survey’s respondents say they have been the victim of financial fraud at some point in their lives. The most common cases are credit card fraud (75 per cent) and debit card fraud (24 per cent).