Phone Scams Cause Americans to Lose $10.5 Billion in 2018
Millennials and men are more often fooled by scams and robocalls, says a new report.
The report from Truecaller, a caller ID and spam call blocking app, says that men and younger adults are the groups most likely to fall victim and lose money to a phone scam – particularly men aged 18-34. Despite receiving lower than average spam calls per month (21) – and half the number of calls reported by men over 65 (47) – men aged 18-34 also reported the highest instance of lost money. 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. Overall the number of men being victimized (21%) was a significant 62% higher than women (13%).
In its fifth annual report, the study revealed that nearly 1 in every 6 American adults (17%) lost money from a phone scam in the past 12 months with over half of those who have ever been scammed (56%) reporting they’ve been a victim more than once.
With an average loss of $244 per victim, the result of these scams is projected to have cost 43 million Americans approximately $10.5 billion in total losses.
Total Spam Calls Up 39% Over Last 12 Months:
On average, Americans reported receiving 32 spam calls (mobile and/or landline – of which 72% were robocalls) and 11 spam text messages in an average month, which is a significant uptick of 39% for spam calls from last year (average 23 spam calls in 2018). Over a 12-month period, that amounts to roughly 97.2 billion spam-related calls and more than 33.4 billion spam texts received in the US.
Parents with Children Under 18 Years Old More Likely to be Scammed:
The report also found that parents with a child under the age of 18 years old are three times as likely to fall victim to being phone scammed at 30% while just 10% of adults without a child under 18 reported losing money on a scam in the past 12 months.
Households with Total Income Above $50K and Less Than $75K Least Likely to be Scammed:
Americans in households with a total income between $50K and $74.9K annually reported fewer incidences of phone scams at 12%, almost half the amount reported by households with incomes of $75K – $99k or those making less than $50K, which were scammed 21% and 19% respectively.
Scammers Target Mobile Phones:
Among those reporting phone scams in the past 12 months, 83% say it took place via mobile phone while just 22% say it occurred over a landline. Some reported receiving scam calls on both mobile and landline.
“Great Credit Deal” is Most Commonly Received Phone Spam
Whilst “great credit deal” offers and the caller telling the recipient they’ve won something topped the list of most common phone spam, over half of Americans receive unsolicited calls of a negative nature, including problems with accounts and claims of owed money. The 5 most commonly received phone spam calls are as follows:
- 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
94% of People Who Lost Money Reported Taking Some Action:
As a result of being scammed, most (94%) of those victimized said they took some action as a result.
Among those who lost money on phone scams in the past 12 months:
- 35% downloaded a spam blocker or caller ID app
- 32% cancelled credit card or changed account numbers
- 30% checked phone bill
- 25% contacted phone carrier
- 23% changed phone number
- 20% reported it to authorities (police, FCC, FTC)
- 18% signed up for Do Not Call Registry
- 17% signed up for credit protection/monitoring
- 16% used “reverse look-up” or searched phone number to try and identify caller
- 6% did nothing
The survey also detailed how people would react to calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Over two thirds of Americans (71%) say they would completely ignore calls from unknown numbers while nearly half (47%) would either block or report the number.
Here’s the complete breakdown for each action to be taken for an unknown number:
- Ignore completely (71%)
- Attempt to block or report the number (47%)
- Answer and hang up immediately to stop the phone from ringing (30%)
- Try to track down the source of number (28%)
- Answer or respond right away (14%)
- Use call-back feature (13%)
- Respond later (8%)
- Other action (7%)
- Not sure (5%)
Unknown text messages
- Delete text (64%)
- Ignore completely (60%)
- Attempt to block or report the number (34%)
- Try to track down the source of the number (18%)
- Respond later (9%)
- Use “call back” feature (8%)
- Answer or respond right away (8%)
- Other action (6%)
- Not sure (7%)
Most Americans Would Rather Avoid Phone Calls Altogether
The survey found that more than half of Americans (55%) prefer to use text, social media apps and email in a bid to avoid phone calls altogether. This figure is even higher amongst the younger generations (ages 18-34) with almost three quarters (73%) stating they favour other forms of communication to avoid talking on the phone, compared to 57% of those aged 45-54 and 35% of those aged 55+.
Americans Worry They Will Miss Legitimate Phone Calls Because of Spam
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.