Americans have lost over $10 million because of phone scams

Recently Truecaller Insights released its fifth annual U.S Spam and Scam report.  “Although 87% of Americans say they try to only answer calls if they recognize the caller’s number, almost two-thirds of Americans (61%) worry they might miss legitimate calls because they suspect they are spam and don’t answer,”  the study’s authors explained.

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In the last twelve months, Americans have lost more than $10 million dollars because of phone scams. This means, $244 is the average loss per victim, given 43 million Americans fell victim to fraudulent calls in the last year. This is a 39% increase since last year’s report. In 2019 the average American reported receiving about 32 spam calls, and 11 spam texts a month. The amount of successful scams has experienced an even sharper increase. The study reported a 70% annual rise in Americans that fell victim to phone scams in 2019 (one in six).

Which group falls victim the most?

Young adults and men (18 to 34) fall victim to these kinds of scams the most often, even though, young men, in particular, reported receiving the least spam calls out of all the demographics reviewed (with 21 being the most cited number by this group).

The study reports, “Two in five men aged 18-34 (40%) claimed they’d been victimized by a phone scam in the past 12 months compared to only 13% of men aged 35+ and 28% of women aged 18-34.”

Parents were also found to be distinctly perceptible. In fact, parents with children living in their house under the age of eighteen are three times as likely to fall victim to being phone scammed, compared to adults without children.

The majority of scams are attempted on mobile phones. Eighty-three percent of respondents reported receiving a fraudulent call this way, with only 22% saying it occurred via their landline.

For whatever reason, households that earned more than $50,000 but less than $75,000 reported the least instances of scams. This group experienced scams about 12% less than the average, and about half as much as households with incomes between $75,000 and $99,000.

Most common tactics,

“Great credit deal,” is one of the most frequent preludes to a successful phone scam, though many different methods are used. Some standard scam phrases are listed in order of frequency below.

  • Great Deal: 70% of Americans have received calls about getting a great deal
  • You’ve Won Something: 64% received calls saying they have won something
  • Problems with an Account: 53% received calls saying there is a problem with an account
  • Owe Money: 50% received calls saying they owe money
  • Political calls: Nearly half of Americans (49%) report receiving political calls

What can you do?

When Americans receive what they suspect to be a spam/scam call, the vast majority simply don’t answer (71%.) A little less than half either block or report the suspicious number (43%). Fourteen percent answer immediately, and 8% call back later.

As technology progresses, more Americans are shying away from traditional modes of long-distance communication. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they communicate through text, social media and email, specifically to avoid talking to someone on the phone. It should come as no surprise that this number surges among 18- to 34-year-olds (73%).

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