Published on : Nov 8, 2023
McAfee Corp, a global leader in online protection, today released its first-ever Global Scam Message Study. The study surveyed more than 7,000 adults in seven countries to understand how scam messages, and the increased scam sophistication brought about by artificial intelligence (AI), have impacted the lives of consumers worldwide.
This study reveals that Americans receive an average of 11.6 fake messages or scams each day. Additionally, two-thirds (65%) of Americans have clicked or fallen for a scam, 45% of those people have lost money as a result, and 15% have lost more than $1,000.
AI is a scammer’s favorite tool, helping cybercriminals increase the scale, sophistication and speed of phishing and text message scams. These fake emails, text messages and phishing sites are more believable than ever thanks to the advancements in artificial intelligence. In fact, a new phishing site is created every 11 seconds and McAfee detects and protects against more than a million phishing attempts every single day, illustrating the deluge of scam messages consumers are faced with.
“It’s truly a sign of the times that most Americans would rather subject themselves to the pain and distress of a root canal than be subjected to scam texts and messages throughout the year,” said Roma Majumder, SVP of Product at McAfee. “And it’s not just the speed and volume, but the sophistication. Thanks to AI it can be incredibly difficult to know if that delivery text message or bank alert notification is real or not. So much so that 55% of Americans believe they have a better shot at solving the Rubik’s cube than identifying a scam message.”
“This onslaught of scam messages is a drain on people’s time, energy, and finances. And it’s why we all need AI to beat AI. Unfortunately, seeing is no longer believing and we need to be equipped with advanced AI technology that can stop and block scam messages in real time. I’m proud that McAfee offers solutions to protect people’s privacy, identity and personal information and helps make the online world more enjoyable for everyone,” said Majumder.
The 2023 McAfee Scam Message Study
McAfee’s research revealed four key insights about online scams and spotlights the level of stress people face as AI drives an increase in the number and sophistication of scam messages, along with the need for an AI-driven solution to the problem. The survey results are detailed below.
Today’s scam messages are cleverly camouflaged
84% of Americans surveyed feel that it’s harder than ever to spot when a text, email, or social media message is a scam, and 52% believe hackers are using artificial intelligence to be more accurate and believable with their scams. Further, 39% of people said they noticed that scam messages no longer have typos or errors, and are very believable as a result, and that scam messages are harder to identify because they are often very personal.
This sophisticated trickery takes five common forms. The below numbers indicate the percentage of U.S. survey respondents who’ve received each type of message in the past year:
People are drowning in a scam message sea
In a time when one-third of U.S. adults report not getting enough daily rest or sleep, an increasing amount of their valuable time is being used to filter through an overwhelming number of scam messages. The average American spends 94 minutes each week reviewing, verifying, or deciding whether a message sent through text, email, social media is real or fake. This amounts to more than two full work weeks each year, spent on scam-spotting. More specifically:
To click, or not to click, is a potentially complicated question
With the increased volume, and more advanced appearance of scam messages, just 35% of Americans have avoided clicking on or falling for fake messages in the last 12 months. In line with this finding, 65% of survey respondents have believed the content of one or more scam messages was real, with the most believed messages being:
Engaging with scam messages can be costly and stressful.
Nearly half (45%) of Americans who clicked on a scam message lost money as a result. The people surveyed indicated they would prefer the following painful or scary experiences over dealing with online scam texts and messages throughout the year:
An AI ally is needed as scam stakes rise and online trust sinks
As the number of AI-powered scams continues to rise, 40% of U.S. survey respondents say their trust in digital communications has decreased. This trend is largely due to a lack of depth in digital defense knowledge: 37% of people say they don’t know if they are doing the right things to protect themselves. People manage this knowledge gap in different ways:
How to Protect Yourself from Scam Messages