senior man giving credit card details on the phone

Fraud is the most prevalent crime in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

Using data from 2019, the national statistical agency found that about 17% of respondents to its survey on crime said they had been victims of fraud in the previous five years — with total losses exceeding $16 billion. This represents five million Canadians over age 15, the agency noted.

StatsCan also said that 7.8% reported being victims of fraud in the past 12 months — almost double the reported rate of violent crime victimization, 4.3% (including sexual assault, robbery and assault).

Additionally, police-reported data on crime for 2021 indicated that the incidence of fraud had almost doubled since 2011, the agency said.

At the same time, StatsCan found only 11% of victims said they reported their fraud experience to the police, and just 7% reported it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Most victims (65%) reported the fraud to their bank.

“By comparison, 52% of motor vehicle thefts and 45% of break-and-enters are believed to have been reported to the police in 2019,” StatsCan said.

The average loss to fraud was $5,120, “mostly due to very high losses incurred by few victims,” StatsCan said, noting that 38% said they lost nothing. The median loss was $600.

The vast majority of self-reported fraud involved the theft of personal information, such as cloned or copied credit or debit cards, hacked online accounts, and database breaches or leaks.

“In most cases, fraud victims discovered the incident while reviewing their bank or credit card statements (38%) or after a financial institution or a credit card company had contacted them (31%),” StatsCan said.