A recent survey by Interac Corp. (Interac) reveals seven in ten (70 per cent) new Canadians polled feel they are more susceptible to financial scams than the general population. Over half (53 per cent) of newcomers say they and/or an immediate family member have been targeted by fraud, while more than half of newcomer respondents (55 per cent) are very concerned about becoming a victim in the future.
As record numbers of immigrants arrive in Canada, scammers are preying on newcomers navigating an unfamiliar financial landscape. The top scams they face include fake job postings (witnessed by 40 per cent of new Canadians surveyed), phishing attempts (37 per cent) and scammers disguising themselves as representatives of official government institutions (34 per cent).
“Being targeted for financial scams is an all-too-common experience for newcomers. We all have a role to play in providing advice to help build their financial literacy and spot scams before it’s too late,” said Rachel Jolicoeur, Director, Cybermarket Intelligence and Financial Crime at Interac. “Newcomers want to feel in control and most prefer to spend their own money versus borrowing. As they get used to life in Canada, we need to build their trust when transacting in new ways – such as using Interac e-Transfer or Interac Debit for the first time.”
The Interac survey reinforces that high scam rates are taking a toll on the financial fortitude of newcomers. Only two in ten (22 per cent) newcomers polled strongly agree they would know what to do if they were the victim of a financial scam. Furthermore, nearly six in ten newcomers (56 per cent) say being targeted makes them feel less financially confident, as compared with a third of all respondents polled (36 per cent).
Building financial know-how is a priority for newcomers. The majority of newcomer respondents (73 per cent) indicate they want to learn more about how to protect themselves from fraud, and more than eight in ten (83 per cent) point to the value of having access to tools that help with managing their spending. To answer these needs, Interac and Conscious Economics have launched Mindfulness & Money for Newcomers and International Students, a digital learning program that teaches financial literacy and fraud prevention techniques.
The three-part course is available free and online to all newcomers who wish to participate, with subtitled modules available in a variety of languages. In addition, the program will be a part of the international student’s orientation package at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). The new modules build on the success of the Mindfulness & Money program, presented by Conscious Economics and Interac, which has helped nearly 80,000 Canadians build their financial confidence.
“It’s critical that newcomers and international students feel supported in every step of their financial journey here,” said Aseel El-Baba, co-founder of Mindfulness & Money and the in-house financial therapist at Conscious Economics and who was a newcomer to Canada herself. “This new set of modules will help explore common challenges newcomers face while navigating an unknown financial system and transacting in new ways. They will also look at the ins and outs of fraud prevention as a newcomer.”
“At Interac, our aim is to help empower Canadians to transact digitally with confidence. The latest course we have developed with Conscious Economics is designed to provide newcomers with a supportive community, while establishing the fundamentals of financial and digital literacy,” said Daria Hill, Vice President, Marketing & Communications. “Through our research, we particularly see this appetite and need among international students, 93 per cent of whom say they face barriers in managing their everyday finances. The survey also highlights the critical role Interac solutions can play in the lives of newcomers.”