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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Top Trends in 2023


Published October 16, 2023 • 4 Min Read

According to a recent RBC poll, most Canadians (88%) report they have experienced an increase in fraud attempts and over half (57%) say they have been notified that their personal information was exposed in a data breach. The numbers from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre back up Canadians’ perceptions, reporting that in 2022 they received fraud and cybercrime reports totalling $530 million in victim losses1. This figure represents a nearly 40% increase from the $380 million in losses in 2021 and a 130% increase from 2020. It is estimated that 70% of fraud losses are cyber-enabled.

The most common scams of the year

Bottom line, scams are on the rise. But some are more popular than others. According to the same poll, the most frequent scams reported were:

      • Email Scams (Phishing): 55% of respondents experienced a fraud attempt via emails that appear to come from a legitimate source and direct you to a fake website.

      • Phone Scams (Vishing): In 47% of cases, fraud was reported via a phone call where a fraudster tried to trick them into sharing sensitive information.

      • Text Message Scams (Smishing): 40% of respondents received fraudulent text messages in attempts to trick them into giving away sensitive information.

The most effective phishing, vishing and smishing tactics leverage current events (such as Ukrainian relief efforts and COVID-19) or create messages that appear to be coming from trusted organizations, or even people you know.

According to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) victim reporting (January 1, 2022, to January 1, 2023), these are the top sectors being imitated:

1. Government (federal, provincial, and municipal): Fake emails, calls and texts from scammers impersonating the Canada Revenue Agency, demanding immediate payment with the threat of arrest or imprisonment.

2. Delivery agencies: Canada Post and UPS are two of the most commonly impersonated delivery organizations where fraudsters will request payment or information before a delivery can be made.

3. Retail: For instance, a scammer will impersonate Amazon and reach out to you, claiming there is an issue with a recent order and that you’re eligible for a refund. The catch is that to receive your refund, you’ll either have to follow a link to another website or provide them with personal information.

4. Health: Scams related to COVID-19 or other viruses, vaccines and test kits are still circulating.

5. Finance: You may receive an email that you are locked out of your bank account and must enter your login credentials to unlock it and access your money.

How to stay one step ahead

The best way to defend against cyber crime is through awareness.

While you may not be able to stay current with every scam around, being aware of the types of threats and risks that exist can help keep you safe.

Here are some recommended tips and awareness strategies:

      • Don’t pick up the phone if you don’t recognize the phone number. If it’s really someone you know on the other end of the line, they’ll leave a message or send a text explaining the nature of their call.

      • Don’t give away personal information to someone you don’t know. Even if they claim to be from a trusted company or agency, hang up if they request personal details from you.

      • Don’t open attachments if you don’t know the source. If you receive an email with a suspicious attachment, simply delete it.

      • Recognize that legitimate companies and financial institutions don’t request account updates or login information via text. Confirm any requests received through text by calling the organization’s official number.

      • Be aware of fake email addresses and websites. If an email sounds strange or is written with typos and incorrect grammar – yet claims to be from a legitimate company – it’s best to ignore and delete it. Many scammers create email addresses and websites that look authentic – but aren’t real at all.

      • On social media, only accept friend and follow requests form people you know.

Awareness is key to staying safe. This Cyber Awareness Month, take a moment to get up to speed on the latest threats and tactics to protect yourself and the people you love.

1 Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), 2023.

2 CTV News: “Ontario man ‘devastated’ after losing his home and nearly $500K to crypto scam”

3 Global News: “Ransomware attacks becoming common, more sophisticated in Canada: agency”

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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