TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 3, 2015) - Over half of Canadians (54%) say they are more concerned about identity theft today than they were a year ago according to a recent study by Equifax Canada on consumer spending habits online and in stores.
Over the past 18 months, Equifax Canada has received over 180 reports of data breaches involving companies of every size. When surveyed almost half (49%) of Canadians indicated they are particularly worried about the risk of identity theft when making online purchases. Even with this growing risk and concern, 75% of shoppers still plan to make their holiday purchases online this year.
In response to fears about identity theft or fraud, the study also revealed that four in five Canadians (81%) have taken at least one of the following steps over the last 12 months:
John Russo, Equifax Canada's Chief Privacy Officer says these steps alone may not be enough:
"Data breaches are on the rise and while it's encouraging that some people are taking steps to protect their personal data, many remain easy targets for identity thieves and fraudsters. We know these criminals are more active during the run-up to the holidays when people are buying gifts. We encourage people to be more cautious when shopping online and to check their credit report regularly.
"It's great to see that more Canadians are starting to invest in identity theft protection products as credit monitoring is one of the best ways to pro-actively spot any unusual activity with your credit or identity; pro-active consumer prevention is a critical step in the fight against fraud," adds Russo.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, it is estimated that less than 5 percent of the total number of fraud victims report their experiences to law enforcement agencies. Fraud-related crime in Canada has ballooned to between $15-$30 billion annually.
Jane Rooney, Canada's Financial Literacy Leader, also encourages people to be more vigilant: "Unfortunately, fraud can affect anyone at any time causing significant distress both financially and personally. One of our goals throughout Financial Literacy Month is to educate individuals on how to protect their PINs and passwords and recognize fraud, report it, and prevent it."
During Financial Literacy Month and throughout the year, Rooney and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) coordinate financial literacy initiatives by collaborating with stakeholder groups across the country. The FCAC also offers tips on how to protect yourself from identity fraud. If someone suspects or knows that they are a victim of identity theft or fraud, they should contact their local police and Equifax Canada toll free at: 1-800-465-7166
The online study commissioned by Equifax Canada last month, polled 1,557 Canadians ages 18-65. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
To learn more about the tools to help prevent fraud and identity theft, please visit: www.equifax.ca
Equifax is a global leader in consumer, commercial and workforce information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 600 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or have investments in 19 countries and is a member of the Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol EFX.
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