Older Canadians susceptible to identity theft

Visa Fraud Prevention Month activities highlight importance of protecting personal information for the young-at-heart

TORONTO, March 1 /CNW/ - Visa, a leading global payments technology company, today released a new survey that reveals that over 40 per cent of older Canadians admit to unsafe behaviours that put their personal financial information at risk to criminal and data thieves.

The survey polled 1,003 Canadians over the age of 50 about steps they can take to protect themselves from identity theft and payment card fraud. The results reveal that 16 per cent of Canadian zoomers and seniors say they have been the victim of payment card fraud, identity theft or a violation of financial privacy since they turned 50 years of age. Of these individuals, one-in-five (19 percent) did not discuss the violation with members of their family or their friends.

"While they are clearly concerned about identity theft, and 65 per cent feel as though the problem of card fraud may be getting worse, the survey results tell us that older Canadians are needlessly putting themselves at risk to fraud," said Gord Jamieson, Head of Payment System Risk, Visa Canada. "Of particular concern, almost a quarter (22 per cent) of seniors have shared their PIN and almost one-fifth have lent their credit or debit card (18 per cent) to a family member or friend. Seven per cent even admitted that they keep a written copy of their PIN in their wallet or purse."

As part of its annual Fraud Prevention Month activities, Visa is hosting free fraud prevention seminars at senior centres in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax that will highlight easy steps cardholders can take to better protect themselves and their personal information from thieves. The information sessions across Canada will focus on educating seniors about safe financial practices, as well as provide them with the opportunity to ask questions they may be too embarrassed to ask their families about.

Visa's approach to fraud prevention is based on the belief that the only effective way to fight fraud is to employ multiple layers of security. While Visa continually develops new technologies and solutions to help combat fraud, including Chip and PIN, Zero Liability and Verified by Visa, informed and alert consumers are the frontline of defense against payment card fraud and data breaches.

"Young or old - preventing fraud is a shared responsibility," continued Jamieson. "By offering information to Canadian seniors during Fraud Prevention Month, we can help to educate them not only about measures already in place to safeguard their personal information, but also easy steps that they can take better protect themselves against data thieves."

To ensure that fraud prevention is top-of-mind throughout the year, Visa has compiled a new resource that includes the Top Ten Tips for Canadian Seniors to help protect themselves and their personal financial information. Outlined on a magnet that can be displayed by a phone or on a refrigerator, recommendations include:

    -   Always create a PIN that is hard to guess (e.g. not a birthday or
        phone number).
    -   Always be cautious when asked for personal information over the phone
        when you didn't initiate the call.
    -   Never share your PIN(1) - not even with family, friends or
    -   Never keep a written copy of your PIN in your wallet or purse.
    -   Never agree to a "free trial" or "sample" without reading the terms
        and conditions. You may be agreeing to future monthly charges - which
        aren't free.
    -   Never be embarrassed to talk to family, friends or your bank if you
        have questions or are worried you may have been victimized.

Additional educational materials for consumers and merchants on fraud prevention can be found on www.visa.ca/securewithvisa.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted between February 3-7, 2010, by Ipsos Reid. A total of 1003 Canadians over 50 years of age were surveyed. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and with a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About Visa

Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks - VisaNet - that is capable of handling more than 10,000 transactions a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.

    (1) Visa cardholders should also be aware that sharing your PIN may void
        certain Zero Liability protections

SOURCE VISA Canada Corporation

For further information: For further information: Sarah Van Lange, Fleishman-Hillard, (416) 645-8173, sarah.vanlange@fleishman.ca; Tania Freedman, Visa Canada, (416) 860-3871, tfreedma@visa.com

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890