More than half of Canadians are worried about identity theft
Black Friday is just around the corner. November 27th marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season, and retailers across Canada will be trumpeting deals and promotions to make the most of the busiest shopping season of the year.
But if pointing and clicking in your pajamas sounds better than braving a crowded mall, you’re not alone. Cyber Monday is Black Friday’s digital cousin, and Canadians are embracing the online shopping day in a big way. Purolator, who traditionally saw its busiest parcel-shipping day in mid-December, is now adding a second peak day to its calendar – November 30th, otherwise known as Cyber Monday. On that day, Canada’s largest shipping company plans to move over a million packages.
Just how many Canadians online shopping this year? A recent survey from credit bureau Equifax says 75 per cent of Canadians plan to let their mouse do the shopping during this holiday season. This is interesting, considering the survey also points to the 54 per cent of Canadians who are more concerned about identity theft today than they were a year ago.
“The threats are real, there’s no doubt,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada. “Identity theft is on the rise and Cyber Monday is open season for cyber criminals.”
Over the last year, Equifax says 4 in 5 Canadians have taken at least one of the following steps to reduce their online vulnerability:
- Double-checked credit card statements 53%
- Updated security passwords 41%
- Shared less about self on social media 34%
- Installed security software 27%
- Used cash more often 21%
- Checked my credit report 15%
- Shopped less online 15%
- Purchased an identity theft product 4%
Schwartz is encouraged by the actions of Canadians and hopes they keep it up.
“These are the kinds of things that you need to do on a regular basis,” adds Schwartz. “Cyber criminals aren’t going to quit and neither should you – protecting yourself is not a one-and-done.”
Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit offer the following advice to build up your online security:
Don’t use your pet’s name – Using a predictable password (your pet’s name, your birthday, your phone number) is like leaving your house keys on the front porch. Use complicated passwords, be sure to update them often, and try not to use the same one for multiple services. If this sounds easier said than done (it is), try using an online password manager.
Watch your statements like a hawk – Download apps from your bank and credit card so that you can keep close watch on your statements. If you see anything strange, contact your financial institution immediately. Take things one step further by checking your credit report annually – you can do so for free by contacting Equifax and TransUnion.
If it seems fishy, it probably is – Fraudulent websites and e-mails are created by cyber criminals for one reason – they work. If you have even the slightest suspicion, back away. Pay attention to the URL – it should begin with HTTPS and should have a padlock icon next to it. Also remember that banks and companies will never ask for personal information over e-mail; they have more secure ways to do that.
Resist the social media madness – Canadians young and old have embraced social media and in a hyper-connected world, this means a lot of personal information is floating around the internet. User profiles can be a gold mine and information like birthdates, addresses, schools and graduation dates, and your relationship status could provide cyber criminals with enough data to cause you a lot of misery.
Are you feeling stressed out by the upcoming holiday season due to heavy debt burdens? Relief might be just one call away. Get in touch with one of our trained credit counsellors by calling 1-888-294-3130. They will give you confidential, non-judgmental advice on how you can shed your debts and breath easy. You can also get the ball rolling online by trying our Free Debt Analysis.