Victims of financial fraud often approach law-enforcement authorities, financial institutions and credit rating bureaus. However, few think of turning to the one person who’s responsible for their financial well-being: the advisor.

Financial advisors need to be proactive and ensure their clients are doing enough to protect themselves against financial fraud. And if the recent Visa Canada survey is any indication, it is a bigger problem than Canadians of all ages think.

The study, which marks the National Fraud Prevention Month, noted that 32% of Canadians aged 18-30 admitted to including their email address, home address, birthday, or phone number, on social networking sites—information that could potentially be used to perpetuate identity theft and other scams.

In contrast, those in higher age brackets were found to be engaged in progressively less risky behaviour; just 24% of those aged 31-45, 14% of baby boomers (aged 46-65), and 9% of seniors (66 and older) said they made the same mistakes.

“This year’s survey reveals that Canadians of all ages have bad habits that impede their ability to protect themselves against financial fraud,” said Gord Jamieson, head of payment system risk, Visa Canada.

“Young adults need to better understand the risks associated with over-sharing personal and financial data, while seniors need to better understand that talking about fraud with someone they trust can help protect them from becoming a victim, helping them learn about risks and how they can protect themselves.”

Some of the risky behaviour exhibited, especially by the young adults, includes sharing their PIN (Personal Identification Number) and lending their credit/debit card to others.

Those aged 66 and older were the group most likely to keep their experiences with fraud secret from friends and family.

The survey also found reluctance on part of victims to talk about it afterwards. Seniors (66 and older) were the least likely to do so. Only 50% of the seniors polled said they had spoken to friends or family about their experience, compared to 70% among all other generations.

“It’s crucial that seniors have conversations about fraud, so they can learn how to protect themselves,” said Jamieson. “No one should be embarrassed to talk to family, friends or their financial institution if they have questions about fraud or are worried they may have been victimized.”

Despite being least likely to make personal information available on public platforms, seniors are often the primary target of scam artists, their modus operandi often including phone calls and emails designed to solicit personal and financial information.

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