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• Mar. 4, 2024

With romance and grandparent scams that typically target older Canadians often dominating fraud headlines, it might be surprising to hear that young adults are prime targets for fraudsters – especially on social media.

A new TD survey found that of the young adult Canadians surveyed (between the ages of 18 to 34), 41% were more likely to have been targeted by fraudsters through social media compared to older adult Canadians surveyed. What’s more, nearly 30% of the young adult Canadians surveyed said they had fallen victims to financial fraud or scams.

Some of the ways members of this demographic reported being the target of fraud included through social media (43%), online ads (29%), job or service applications (25%), and online dating apps (10%).

“These findings show that anyone, no matter their age, can be targeted and become victims of sophisticated online scams,” said Sophia Leung, Senior Vice-President, Protect Platform, at TD.

“It is important for all Canadians to learn to identify the red flags of fraud so they can help protect themselves. While many of the tactics used by fraudsters are not new, changes to the way we spend our time and shop online over the last few years has made everyone more susceptible to falling victim to fraud.”

According to the TD survey, 6 in 10 young adult Canadians surveyed say they take steps to educate themselves on fraud and their warning signs. Even still, 43% of them say they would be too embarrassed to tell anyone if they’ve been defrauded.

“If you’ve been a victim of fraud, it’s important to tell your bank and police, and also report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre,” Leung said. “The authorities might be able to investigate, or at least collect information on the fraud so they can warn others.”

The frauds young adult Canadians surveyed are most worried about

Many young Canadians spend a lot of time online. According to data published by Statistics Canada, 42% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 spend 20 or more hours a week on the internet, and 38% of adults between the ages of 25 to 34 do the same.

While this amount of time spent online can lead to better internet literacy, it can also lead to feelings of stress and anxiety around being scammed, the survey found. Among the young adult Canadians surveyed, 62% say they feel vulnerable to becoming a target for financial fraud, 63% say scams are targeting them now more than ever before, and 93% believe fraud attempts will increase in the next year.

As for the scams young adult Canadians surveyed are most worried about? Financial and professional ones. According to the TD survey, job scams top the list (19%), followed by investment scams (15%) and cheque scams (12%).

Spotting the red flags and helping to protect yourself

To help protect yourself from online scams, Leung says it’s important to understand some of the common warning signs and bolster fraud knowledge.

“It’s important we all take the time to learn the signs of a scam or fraud, know how to report it, and share that information with the people around us,” Leung said. “One conversation could be all it takes to help prevent someone you know from falling victim to fraud.”

When it comes to cheque scams, make sure to keep your cheques in a safe and secure location where they cannot be easily accessed by others. Take care to destroy any old or unused cheques – including from closed accounts.

Whenever possible, Leung said to opt for electronic payments, such as wire payments, direct deposit or pre-authorized payments instead of using cheques.

Investment scams can often seem too good to be true; fraudsters will often promise an easy way to “earn money quickly” and aggressively push their “investment opportunities” onto others. The premise of these scams is to encourage you to act impulsively and make a hurried decision.

Leung said it’s best practice to be suspicious if anyone approaches you with unsolicited investment advice or opportunities. Take your time to do research on the “investment” and don’t offer up any of your personal information, including your SIN or bank account details.

Job scams might come through unsolicited text messages or emails from a person posing as a hiring manager or recruiter. The fraudster will often make promises of earning “easy money” and might ask you to send funds for reasons such as training material, uniforms or supplies for the job.

A legitimate employer will never ask you to send them money ahead of time, or request you transfer money to a third party. Be sure to research any “job” you are contacted about and only apply for positions through official company websites.

“We all have a role to play in the fight against fraud,” Leung said. “Together, we can make a difference.”

The TD Fraud Prevention Month Survey was conducted by Maru Public Opinion on behalf of the TD Bank Group and undertaken between January 30 – February 4, 2024 by the sample and data management experts at Maru/Blue. The survey ran among 1,085 randomly selected Canadians aged 18+, all who are Maru Voice Canada online panelists. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of 1,085 has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

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