Students ignore scam risks despite rising fraud attempts – RBC poll

Even with fraud attempts on the rise, many post-secondary students don’t see themselves as probable targets and are likely underestimating their risk, according to the RBC 2023 Students and Fraud Poll.

Less than half (44%) are worried about falling victim to a financial scam while at school, despite a similar percentage (46%) reporting they have encountered more fraud attempts since starting their post-secondary studies. Thirty per cent (30%) commented that the risk of fraud never crosses their mind.

“With so many things to think about when attending post-secondary school, it’s understandable that fraud isn’t always top of mind for students,” noted Kevin Purkiss, vice president of Fraud Management at RBC. “With new sophisticated scams on the rise and many students managing their finances for the first time, being aware of the risks, knowing how to spot the signs of a scam and taking steps to protect your personal and financial information are key.”

Other key poll findings:

  • Identity theft ranks higher than losing money among fraud concerns
    • Almost twice as many of the post-secondary students polled are concerned about fraudsters stealing their identity than money (59% versus 30%)
    • This could be in part because more than half of students polled (52%) don’t think they have enough money to be targeted by fraudsters
  • Many students get a failing grade when it comes to passwords
    • While strong passwords can be a first line of defence against fraud, only 26% of the post-secondary students polled say they regularly change their passwords or use passwords that are tough to guess
    • Two-in-five (39%) have used the same password for online/mobile banking as other online accounts
    • More than one-quarter (28%) have shared their debit and/or credit cards or passwords with others
    • Overall, 58% are not as vigilant as they should be when it comes to reducing their risk of fraud
    • The majority (83%) admit to actions that make them more vulnerable to scams
  • Students need more fraud education
    • The majority (80%) believe they need to learn more about fraud.
    • Four-in-ten (40%) say they don’t know where to find resources to inform them about fraud.
    • Half (49%) don’t know how to report a scam or fraud.

Purkiss shares four tips to help students make the grade and reduce their risk of fraud:

  1. Ignore unsolicited calls, emails and texts. Fraudsters may impersonate government, bank staff, law enforcement or other trusted people. If you receive a call or automated message claiming to be from your financial institution, or any other business, and are asked to confirm personal or financial information, disconnect the call. Instead, call trusted phone numbers on the back of your card or from an official business website.
  2. Pause before sharing or acting. Never share your debit/credit card or banking passwords even with a friend or family member, and limit sharing personal information on social media. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown senders. Watch for anything asking you to respond immediately. Fraudsters will often use a sense of urgency to get you to share information. If an offer is too good to be true, it usually is.
  3. Don’t let your passwords go stale. Change your passwords regularly, making them tough to guess and use different passwords for different sites.
  4. Be aware. Stay up to date and remain vigilant by setting up alerts through your mobile banking app for large transactions, monitoring account activity and checking bank and credit card statements for anything suspicious. Never enter login information or credit card details unless you’re sure a website is legitimate. Red flags include spelling errors, a URL that doesn’t match the company’s verified site or no security lock symbol in the address bar. It’s also important to report scam attempts to your bank and the police without delay.

“If a scammer steals your identity, there can be long-lasting impacts to your credit score and your finances. This is true regardless of your age or financial situation,” adds Purkiss. “That’s why we believe it’s important to continue to make information and resources available to everyone so they can stay on top of current scams to safeguard their personal and financial information.”

For more tips, please visit How to Protect Yourself Online – RBC.

RBC 2023 Students and Fraud Poll: Selected Findings

More needs to be done to educate students like me about fraud80 %79 %78 %81 %81 %
I have been targeted more by scams since I started as a post-secondary student46 %43 %39 %55 %38 %
What is the worst thing you think could happen to you if you were scammed?·  Scammers would steal my identity·  Scammers would steal my money59%30%62%28%59%32%58%30%56%30%
I am worried I will become a victim of a financial scam while at school44 %39 %46 %44 %47 %
The risk of fraud never crosses my mind30 %30 %32 %29 %28 %
I don’t have enough money to be targeted by fraudsters52 %53 %54 %57 %42 %
I regularly change my passwords and use passwords that are tough to guess26 %29 %25 %26 %20 %
I have used the same password for online/mobile banking and other online accounts39 %42 %50 %39 %32 %
I’m not as vigilant as I should be when it comes to reducing my risk of fraud58 %62 %65 %60 %42 %
It’s harder to know when something is a scam51 %48 %52 %48 %60 %
Additional Findings     
I have shared my debit and/or credit cards or passwords with others28 %24 %20 %29 %34 %
I have taken actions that make me more vulnerable to scams83 %86 %83 %84 %82 %
I don’t know where to find resources about fraud40 %37 %40 %38 %46 %
I don’t know how to report a scam or potential fraud49 %50 %50 %49 %50 %

Sample sizes for the Prairies and Atlantic Canada were too small to include. 

About the RBC 2023 Students and Fraud Poll

From July 27 to August 3, 2023, an online survey was commissioned by RBC among 1,017 Canadian post-secondary students who are 18-24 years of age. All respondents were members of the online Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a sample of this size would yield a margin of error of ± 3.1 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 97,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank and one of the largest in the world, based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our more than 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 27 other countries. 

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