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Personal cyber protection a growing need: Experts

July 16, 2023

It didn’t take long for cybercriminals to jump on the grocery rebate gravy train.

As the federal government started rolling out money to help Canadians with inflated grocery prices, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issued a warning on social media that emails or text messages prompting them to collect payment should be ignored.

“We don’t use email or text messages to start a conversation with you about you taxes or benefits,” the agency tweeted. “We won’t email or text you a link to get a payment or to ask you to fill in a form.”

The CRA said the benefit is only delivered by cheque or direct deposit. It also urged anyone that thinks they’ve fallen victim to the scam to report it to police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System.

The problem is many won’t.

Why? People are more likely to bury their shame and eat the cost of the cyber scam — even to their detriment — insurance leaders shared recently at an industry conference.

According to an Ipsos survey conducted this year, only about one in four fraud victims (27%) report telling family members about the fraud and even fewer (22%) shared their experience with friends. Only a little over half (54%) claim to have reported the incident to their financial institution.

Neal Jardine, global cyber risk intelligence and claims director for BOXX Insurance told the conference:

“(With) the romance scams you hear about on the news, people don’t want to tell other people they fell for it, so they bury it. Insurance is available, but it’s often (about) making clients realize it.”

In fact the CAFC, which lists all known scams on its website, reported in June they have noticed an increase in romance/investment scams – called ‘pig butchering.’ Victims are contacted on dating apps or social media by a fraudster who is attempting to develop a relationship in order to gain the victim's trust. After trust is achieved, the fraudster will claim they have been a successful investor in cryptocurrency and can help the victim also make money and “get rich.”

Fraudsters use fake online trading platforms and convince victims to transfer funds or cryptocurrency into their trading account. Occasionally, the victim will be able to withdraw a small amount of their "investment" in the hopes they'll be persuaded to invest even more. In most cases, victims realize they have been defrauded when they try to withdraw their funds and can’t.

Other Ipsos survey findings are revealing:

  • Nearly half (43%) of Canadians have knowingly fallen victim to cyber fraud or scams in their lifetime.
  • Older Canadians (aged 55+) are among the least likely to report having knowingly been victimized by fraud or scams at some point in their lifetime (31% vs. 50% aged 18-54).
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of younger Canadians (aged 18-34) admit that they’ve knowingly been the victim of fraud or scams.
  • Credit card fraud is most commonly reported (21%), followed by debit card fraud (8%) and online phishing scams (8%).

One thing is clear. As Canadians become more digital, consumers are increasingly at risk. With so many transitioning their banking and shopping to online platforms, it is not surprising that fraud and online scams are more common.

Plus, with many hybrid workplaces, some small- to medium-sized business owners are mingling their business and personal accounts – and putting their client’s data at risk, say industry experts. And larger companies or governments that experience data breaches because of cyberattacks, for example, also put people’s personal information at risk of falling into the hands of criminals.

Jardine said the most confident of clients are the ones most at risk from cybercrime.

“(In) personal lines cyber coverage, the (claims) we see the most frequently are the ones who tell me they bought it, but they really don’t need it because they’re smart and they know what they’re doing.”

People may also not be aware of cyberbullying protection coverage, he added, which gives policyholders the resources to stop their children from suffering the effects of online harassment.

“We’re now operating in a digital world. Kids aren’t just getting bullied in the playground; they can be bullied online,” Jardine said.

While insurers report a ‘huge uptick’ in cybercrime, the good news is there are affordable personal cyber coverage options.

The HUB Personal Cyber Insurance Policy, for example, offers an important extra layer of protection for your finances and family members against the risk of ransomware, phishing, cyberbullying, cyberstalking and helps guard against identity theft, which allows fraudsters to empty your bank accounts, take out credit cards and loans in your name.

For as little as $100 a year, it provides $25,000 in coverage and provides 24/7 access to cyber professionals should you become a victim. It also covers family members living in your household and dark web monitoring - where criminals buy and sell personal information - at no extra cost.

- With files from Canadian Underwriter


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