Visa Canada finds online oversharing putting young adults at risk for fraud

Fraud Prevention Month survey finds young Canadians sharing too much personal information, while seniors' reluctance to talk about fraud also carries risks

TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - In honour of Fraud Prevention Month, Visa Canada, a leading global payments technology company, today released survey results revealing different generations of Canadians have habits that put them at greater risk for fraud.

The survey found that young Canadians - those aged 18-30, were the most likely to overshare personal information, with 32 per cent admitting to including their email address, home address, birthday, or phone number, on social networking sites - information that could potentially be used fraudulently to perpetuate identity theft and other scams. In contrast, 24 per cent of those aged 31-45, 14 per cent of baby boomers (aged 46-65), and just nine per cent of seniors (66 and older) reported engaging in the same risky behaviour.

Results also found that young adults are most likely to share their PIN (Personal Identification Number) and lend their credit or debit card to others, while seniors, aged 66 and older, were the group most likely to keep their experiences with fraud secret from friends and family.

"This year's survey reveals that Canadians of all ages have bad habits that impede their ability to protect themselves against financial fraud," said Gord Jamieson, Head of Payment System Risk, Visa Canada. "Young adults need to better understand the risks associated with oversharing personal and financial data, while seniors need to better understand that talking about fraud with someone they trust can help protect them from becoming a victim, helping them learn about risks and how they can protect themselves."

While Visa reminds cardholders to keep their PIN, card information and personal data private, the company does encourage individuals to talk with their friends and family about fraud. The survey found that amongst those who had experienced fraud, seniors (66 and older) were the least likely to talk about it afterwards. Only half of seniors surveyed reported they had spoken to friends or family about their experience, compared to 70 per cent amongst all other generations.

"It's crucial that seniors have conversations about fraud, so they can learn how to protect themselves," noted Jamieson. "No one should be embarrassed to talk to family, friends or their financial institution if they have questions about fraud or are worried they may have been victimized."

Although less likely to share personal information online, seniors are often the primary target of fraud scams - particularly fraudulent phone calls and emails designed to solicit personal and financial information. To help seniors recognize signs of fraud and protect themselves, Visa is hosting free fraud prevention seminars at seniors' centres across Canada. The seminars will take place throughout March and will provide attendees with information to help them identify potential scams, protect against fraud, and raise concerns with friends and family without feeling embarrassed.

Amongst the many behavioural differences in generations of Canadians, this year's survey revealed one alarming similarity - a common misperception about the security of cash.  The majority of all respondents (58 per cent), identified cash as the safest way to make a purchase and possessed a low awareness of Visa's Zero Liability Policy, with just 19 per cent indicating they had heard of this fraud protection.

"I'm always surprised by how many people think cash is a secure form of payment," said Jamieson. "With cash, if your wallet is stolen, the money is gone and it's very unlikely you'll get it back; you're also not protected against purchases gone wrong. With Visa you're protected by zero liability, ensuring you don't pay for fraudulent transactions made with your card." For more information about Visa's Zero Liability Policy visit

Visa's approach to fraud prevention is based on the belief that the best way to fight fraud is to employ multiple layers of security. Visa continually develops new technologies and solutions to help combat fraud, including Chip and PIN, Zero Liability and Verified by Visa. More information about these fraud prevention measures can be found at

Additional Survey Findings

  • While seniors are the least likely to share personal information through social media, they are the most likely group to send personal credit card information via email.
  • More than half (56%) of all Canadians say that identity theft is the fraud concern that worries them the most.
  • Younger Canadians (18-30) are more likely to shop/pay for purchases online and/or use a handheld device and older Canadians are more likely to shop by mail.
  • Of those who have not shopped online, security concerns is the most-cited reason for not doing so (37%).

About the Survey   

Between January 23 and 27, 2012, a sample of 1,604 adults was surveyed as part of an Ipsos Reid online omnibus poll, on behalf of Visa Canada. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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 20,000 transaction messages 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

SOURCE VISA Canada Corporation

For further information:

Erin Sufrin, Visa Canada, 416-860-3869,
Andrew Addison, Fleishman-Hillard, 416-645-3648,

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