Are you a Millennial (18-34 years old)? According to new data released by Equifax Canada, you had better open your eyes to potential millennial fraud, because you are the demographic most highly targeted by fraudsters.
“According to the data released by Equifax, Millennials are the group that fraudsters target most often; Millennials are likely more vulnerable because they are doing less than their demographic counterparts to protect themselves. The link between being proactive and keeping your personal and financial information safe is clear,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
Some highlights from Equifax’s database review and consumer survey show:
- In Equifax’s database, 49 per cent of suspected fraudulent applications were linked with Millennials
- Millennials fell far behind older generations (aged 35 and up) when it comes to taking measures to protect themselves against fraud
- 27 per cent had security software on their home computers (compared to 48 per cent of older generations); 29 per cent were cautious about public Wi Fi use (compared to 35 per cent of older generations); 38 per cent shredded personal documents (vs. 64 per cent of older generations)
Assume you are a target
Because Millennials are typically just starting out in their careers and often have yet to amass a great deal of wealth, they tend to feel that fraudsters might pass them over for more “lucrative” older targets. In fact, according to Equifax, 41 per cent of Millennials didn’t feel like they were targets because they “didn’t have a lot of money”, so didn’t feel it necessary to actively protect themselves always.
“Assuming that you’re not a target can actually make you a victim. Being complacent when it comes to your financial information makes the fraudster’s job easier, which makes you an appealing target,” says Schwartz.
You don’t have to be rich to be a target; it’s about having access to your information. Fraudsters can do a significant amount of financial and emotional damage with very little information, which may take years for you to recover from. They take your personal information and open up bank account and take out fraudulent loans. This is especially devastating if you are just beginning the journey towards reaching your financial goals, as many Millennials are.
It’s time to get informed about how to adopt habits around your personal and financial information that can block fraudsters from getting to you.
Always lock your phone or computer terminal when not in use; don’t forget to update virus software on your computer; don’t reveal personal details about yourself widely on social media; monitor your credit report regularly for discrepancies; always review your bank and credit statements to see if there are any red flags; change your passwords every few months.
If you are a victim
Even when they were victim to fraud, Millennials were far less likely to report it to the authorities. 26 per cent of millennial respondents said that there were circumstances in which they wouldn’t report fraud, vs. 90+ per cent of older Canadians saying that they’d report fraud automatically.
Part of waging the war against fraudsters is to protect yourself; you can also help shut fraudsters down by reporting their actions so that law enforcement and the community as a whole can respond proactively. You can contact your local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Having you been the target of fraud? You can minimize the damage by springing into action. To get your finances back in order, call one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or get started with our online debt analysis.