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Fraud should concern all Canadians: RCMP

About 45 per cent of millennials (people ages 18-34) take no steps to ensure a charity is legitimate before making a donation, according to a new survey. The survey, commissioned by CanadaHelps.
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The Sudbury and District United Way is trying to make it easier for people to donate online, but cautions the public to be cognisant of the fact there are dishonest people out there who will try to take advantage of a person's generosity. File photo.

About 45 per cent of millennials (people ages 18-34) take no steps to ensure a charity is legitimate before making a donation, according to a new survey.

The survey, commissioned by CanadaHelps.org and Capital One Canada, also found more than half (52 per cent) of the same respondents are spontaneous, "on the fly" donors - a behaviour that puts them at risk for fraud because they are casually handing over their hard-earned money and personal information with little to no planning or due diligence, according to a news release.

Furthermore, compared to other generations, they are more than twice as likely to give personal information, nearly half as likely to ask if a charity is registered, and less than half as likely to ask for a solicitor's identification. This relaxed attitude might explain why only 19 per cent of millennials are very concerned about falling victim to a fraudster, compared to 27 per cent for other age groups, according to the release.

The survey was done as part of Fraud Awareness Month.

Sudbury United Way campaign manager Emily Mackwood said online contributions currently make up a very small percentage of donations (less than one per cent) received by the non-profit organization.

“That's primarily because our donor base in the community is very small, and most of our fundraising is done through workplace campaigns,” she said.

However, the United Way is trying to encourage online donations and make it easier for residents to contribute to the fundraising campaign, because “that's the way the world is moving.” Most charities are striving to make donating easier and more convenient, because many work entirely off of people's generosity, and “we are very grateful for that generosity.”

The public is coming to understand that there is a higher degree of security making donations online than there is in filling out a pledge form, she said. And, she is surprised by the range of people who are more inclined to make online donations. It's not just the younger generation logging on to contribute.

“This is purely anecdotal, but the trend I'm seeing is that it's all generations, excluding perhaps senior citizens, and we're getting a lot of feedback from people in their 40s and 50s in the workplace who are saying, 'just make it easy for me to give, and I'll give,' and that means giving online.”

United Way will never send out personal emails to anyone asking them to “click a (random) link” to donate, she added.

“That's not our approach, and if anyone receives something like that, then there is something going on. For United Way, it's a personal ask, or we'll give them a direct link to our website,” she said. “People need to remain cognisant of the fact there are dishonest people out there, and I would definitely encourage anyone with any sort of hesitation about what they are seeing to give the charity a call directly and confirm the request.”

On a larger scale, fraud-related offences are now thought to be as profitable as drug-related offences, estimated at between $10 and $30 billion annually in Canada by the RCMP’s Commercial Crime Branch. The majority of these crimes aren’t committed by kids at their computers – 80 per cent or more of the work is conducted by criminal organizations, according to a news release.

Fraud should concern all Canadians because it de-stabilizes the national economy while strengthening organized crime groups. The impact on individuals, families and businesses is devastating: retirement savings, homes, businesses – and in some cases, lives – have all been lost, the RCMP stated.

There are things people can do to protect themselves, Greater Sudbury Police Sgt. John Somerset agreed told Northern Life in the fall after a Sudbury woman was nearly taken for $10,000 in a mail fraud scam.

He said anytime a caller, letter or e-mail sender wants personal information, the alarms should begin to sound. It’s common for scammers to ask for banking and personal information, particularly if a prize is involved, and even though this information is not typically needed to claim a prize.


“Don’t respond to it,” he said, especially not before verifying the source.

The only good news is that the majority of frauds can be prevented by identifying the methods used by fraudsters. The more the public knows about a fraud, the less likely they are to fall for it.

Fraud Prevention Month is an annual event that gives private and public organizations involved in the fight against fraud an opportunity to further raise public awareness.

“While the spotlight is on fraud during the month of March, it’s important to be vigilant about it all year long. Being cautious isn’t something to be ashamed of. Whether you’re shielding your PIN number from view or asking questions of telemarketers, don’t be afraid of offending people who are asking for your money,” RCMP Superintendent Steve Foster, Director of the RCMP Commercial Crime Branch, said, in the press release.

The RCMP will post on its website tips aimed at keeping you safe from scammers every day during the month of March for Topics covered will include identity theft, phishing, on-line shopping, social networking and credit and debit card fraud.

More results from the survey found that online appeals are becoming the new "door knock" with email (17 per cent) and social media (17 per cent) closely following telephone (20 per cent) as the most frequent ways to solicit Canadians for charitable donations.

Even though they're receiving most solicitations online, more than one-third of Canadians don't trust online donations as a secure channel. In fact, Canadians are less trusting of online donating (65 per cent) compared to online retail purchases (84 per cent) and online banking (90 per cent).

To educate the public about charity fraud, Capital One Canada and CanadaHelps are teaming up during Fraud Prevention Month for the third annual Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz, designed to help participants identify the signs of charity fraud to hopefully avoid these malicious schemes.

The quiz is available at canadahelps.org, and every participant who completes the quiz will be eligible to have their personal donation made via Canadahelps topped up by $10, thanks to Capital One Canada.
Anyone who feels they have been victimized by scammers are asked to report it to PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501 or visit phonebusters.com for more information.

Additional survey results:
- Half of Canadians (53 per cent) are less likely to give to charities because of the possibility of falling victim to a fraudster; 72 per cent believe there's more charity fraud today than 10 years ago. 
- Just three per cent donated via social media (like Facebook) and just two per cent think donating by text message is secure.
- Canadians identify the following as important or very important factors in motivating them to make charitable donations online: easier/faster (29 per cent); more traceable (24 per cent); safer/more secure (21 per cent); can confirm legitimacy of organization I'm donating to (16 per cent).
- Millennials are less likely (65 per cent) to think that there is an increase in charity fraud, compared to Canadians age 35-54 (73 per cent) and 55+ (78 per cent).
- Millennials are the most comfortable donating online (24 per cent) compared to Canadians age 35-54 (14 per cent) and 55+ (nine per cent).

Posted by Arron Pickard 


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