More young adults are getting scammed despite tech-savviness: survey

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A new survey has found nearly one-third of Canadian young adults have been victims of an online scam, despite being part of a generation marked for its digital acumen.

Forty-one per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 report having been targeted by fraudsters on social media, according to the survey by TD published Wednesday. That’s higher than reported by older demographics.

“Growing up a digital native and being more technologically savvy doesn’t mean you’re immune to the dangers of online scams,” said TD fraud expert Sophia Leung in a press release.

According to the survey’s findings, young Canadians are feeling the truth of Leung’s statement.

Despite the attention that scams targeting seniors receive, the survey’s report noted a heightened concern among young people about falling victim to financial fraud.

Over half (62 per cent) of respondents said they feel vulnerable to being a target, with 63 per cent saying scams are targeting them now more than ever.

Nearly all respondents (93 per cent) said they believe fraud attempts will increase over the next year.

And while the reports of scams have soared in recent years, the true number is believed to be much higher. According to the survey, many incidents are likely not reported: 43 per cent of young adults said they would feel too embarrassed to tell anyone if they had been a victim of fraud or a scam.

“As financial fraud schemes become more sophisticated and difficult to detect, falling victim is nothing to be embarrassed about,” Leung said.

“Instead, it’s important to remain hyperaware of potential threats and arm yourself with the knowledge to protect yourself from future fraud attempts.”

The TD Bank Group survey was conducted between Jan. 30 and Feb. 4, 2024, and involved 1,085 Canadian participants aged 18 and over.

How to prevent getting scammed

Fraud prevention education is “paramount” to protecting one’s well-being and digital security, the report says. Despite young adults dedicating time to anti-fraud education, many still expressed worry about being subject to job scams (19 per cent), investment scams (15 per cent) and cheque scams (12 per cent), the survey found.

Regarding job scams, TD advises Canadians to be cautious about unsought job offers through text or email that promise “easy money.”

“A job should never require you to use your personal bank account or credit products as a form of transferring money to another party,” it says.

Investment scams are marked by false urgency, often asking targets to act impulsively and make a quick decision. TD encourages Canadians to be skeptical and take their time before making a big financial decision.

The bank’s advice can be applied to all generations, including seniors who have been the targets of major phone scams in recent years.

Over $9.2 million in losses were reported by seniors who fell victim to the crime — dubbed ‘Grandparent scams’ — in 2022.

The quick evolution of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) also contributes to the difficulty of detecting a scamregardless of age. For example, AI is becoming increasingly capable of replicating voices and conversations.

Earlier this month, a multinational firm in Hong Kong lost around $34.5 million after a financial worker at the company was targeted by scammers using AI, culminating in a phoney video conference call with numerous deepfake colleagues.

As of Dec. 31, 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has processed 62,365 reports, of which $544 million was lost to fraud.

“If you do fall victim to fraud or a scam, the best thing to do is report it so that others can be made aware and take steps to protect themselves,” said Leung. “The more awareness and education about online fraudulent activity, the better.”

This article was originally sourced from