Phone scammers are making make more money than ever and their easiest targets are millennials and men, according to a new report.
Americans have lost an estimated $10.5 billion to phone scams in the last 12 months, up from $8.9 billion in the previous 12 month period, according to a report from Truecaller, a caller ID and spam call blocking app.
In Truecaller’s fifth annual survey, men and millennials are the most likely to lose money to a phone scam, particularly men between the ages of 18 and 34.
“We’ve noticed in recent years that the data continuously reveals that men, particularly millennial-aged men, are the most vulnerable to phone scams,” Truecaller told Fox News in an email. “This shows that despite millennials growing up surrounded by technology, truly anyone can be a victim when it comes to a phone scam.”
And the odds are increasing. Almost 1 in 6 Americans report losing money to scams over the last 12 months compared to 1 in 10 in the previous period, Truecaller said. Of those scammed, the average loss was $244 per victim.
An increase in “persistent spam calls” is one factor behind the numbers, up 39 percent from the previous 12 month period, Truecaller added. In the most recent 12 month period, spam calls averaged 32 per month (while spam text messages average 11 per month), compared to 23 calls in the prior period. Most of those were robocalls, according to the report. That comes to approximately 97.2 billion spam-related calls and more than 33.4 billion spam texts, in the U.S. alone.
Scams claiming “great deals” such as low-interest loans and better credit card rates were the most common scam in the past 12 months. But over half of Americans receive negative unsolicited calls, including “problems with account” or “you owe money” or political calls.
People avoid phone calls
In order to avoid speaking on the phone, over half of Americans, 55 percent, prefer to use text, social media apps and email, the report said.
This figure jumps among younger Americans (ages 18-34), with 73 percent saying they favor other forms of communication “to avoid talking on the phone.” That's much higher than for older Americans (55+), who don't shy away from speaking on the phone nearly as much.
“Despite the heightened awareness of scam/spam calls, the sophistication in which people are being scammed has skyrocketed with new technology being developed, such as AI and voice recognition,” Truecaller told Fox News.
“Scammers are able to reach so many people, and the data shows that many of these people are falling victim not only once, but several times. Robocalls also have the ability to call thousands, if not millions, of people at once - so Americans are getting hit at a much larger scale that shows no sign of slowing down,” Truecaller added.