Canadians believe businesses working to protect personal information yet cybersecurity concerns linger: CPA Canada Fraud Survey

Cyber security

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

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of the respondents agree that they are concerned about identity theft but the number is significantly down from 74 per cent in 2016. At the same time, 72 per cent 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 per cent last year.

However, for the second straight year, 73 per cent 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 per cent) of the respondents agree they fear that someone has personal information about them that they should not be in possession of, up from 35 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent just a year ago.

A majority of respondents (71 per cent) 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 per cent 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 per cent of the respondents reported they had been a victim at some point in their lives, basically unchanged from 2016 (33 per cent). Among those who reported being a victim of financial fraud, credit card fraud had the highest incidence rate (74 per cent) followed by debit card fraud (28 per cent). 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 per cent) of the participants have learned information about how to protect themselves from fraudulent activities through the news media.

To help consumers recognize, avoid and report fraud, CPA Canada published Protecting You and Your Money: A Guide to Avoiding Identity Theft and Fraud. The book is available for ordering at

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

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

A background document is available online at

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