Truecaller Insights 2020 U.S. Spam & Scam Report

In the 6th edition of the Truecaller Insights US Spam & Scam Report we have found some alarming trends and numbers. The statistics are showing that phone scams in the United States have skyrocketed in the past 12 months.

Download the full report here.

Here are the key findings from the 2020 report:

  • As many as 56 million Americans (22%) report having lost money as a result of phone scams in the past 12 months – up from 43 million (17%) in 2019.
  • 1 in 3 Americans (30%) report having ever fallen victim to phone scams, and 17% on several occasions.
  • Of those who lost money to phone scams in the past 12 months:
    • The average reported loss was $351 – up from $244 in 2019.
    • 61.5% got duped because of a robocall.
  • The money lost to scam calls in the past 12 months equates to an estimated $19.7 billion USD*.
  • 44% of Americans have received scam calls & SMS related to COVID-19 in the past few weeks.

56 million Americans have fallen victim to a phone scam in the past 12 months

Total Americans that lost money to scam calls (2020).

In the past 12 months, over 56 million Americans lost money to phone scams – this is a 30% increase compared to last year’s 43 million. Since we started researching the impact of scam and spam calls in the US 6 years ago, this is the highest number recorded to date.

Looking at the data, the past 6 years shows that the average growth rate for Americans falling prey to scam calls in the US has increased as much as 30% year over year.

$19.7 billion USD was lost to phone scams in the past 12 months

Total money lost to scam calls in the US (2020).

Over the past five years the total money lost to scam calls in the US has been growing significantly. Just in the past 12 months, an estimated $19.7 billion USD* was lost to phone scams, which is an 88% increase compared to last year’s $10.5 billion and is the sharpest increase we have recorded to date.

The Average Reported Loss to Scam Calls has increased 44% in the past 12 months

Among those affected by scam calls, the average money lost was $351 USD, which is a 44% increase compared to last year ($244 USD.)

Average money lost to scam calls per person in the US (2020).

The average money lost by those who have fallen victim to phone scams has fluctuated over the years. From 2017 to 2019 there appeared to be a directional downward trend  ($430 in 2017, to $357 in 2018, and $244 in 2019), however in the past 12 months there was a significant shift upwards ($351).

People being scammed by robocalls, a big problem in the U.S.

Victims that lost money because of a robocall scam (2020).

For those who fell victim of a scam call in the past 12 months, more than 3 in 5 (61.5%) say it was the result of a robocall. Despite this being a marginal increase compared to last year (59.8%,) robocalls are evidently a huge problem for Americans, especially when causing people to lose money.

More than 2 out of 5 Americans Have Received COVID-19 Scam Calls & SMS

Americans that have received scam calls or text message related to COVID-19.

In the wake of COVID-19, scammers are taking this opportunity to prey on people’s fear and anxiety. We found that 44% of Americans have received scam calls or text messages related to COVID-19 in the past few weeks.

We expect this trend to increase even more as the situation worsens in the U.S.

Men get scammed more than women

Scam victims by gender in the past 12 months.

In the past 12 months, among those who have been a victim of a phone scam, 55% of those were men and 45% were women.

Among Those who Have Been Scammed by Phone In Past 12 Months: Younger Men Between 18-44 and Women Between 18-44 Most Susceptible to Scams:

Scam victims by gender and age bracket in the past 12 months.

Younger men are more likely than older men to fall victim and lose money to a phone scam, particularly men aged 18-34 (43%) and age 35-44 (45%) compared to men age 45 and older (9%). Among women, the age groups that are  most susceptible are 18-34 years olds (33%) and 35-44 year olds (25%) compared to older women ages 45+ (10%).

Majority of Phone Scams Happen Over Mobile Phones

Scam calls on mobile vs. landline among those who have lost money to a phone scam in the past year.

Since the first survey in 2014, among those who have lost money to phone scams in the past 12 months scam calls over mobile phones have increased from 49% to 82% (2020) – while phone scams over landlines have decreased from 36% to 28%.

Getting a Spam Blocker/Caller ID App after Being Scammed is the Most Common Precautionary Measure

Actions taken after being scammed (2020).

As a result of losing money to a phone scam in the past 12 months, nearly half (47%) downloaded a spam blocker and/or caller ID app and 34% cancelled their credit card/changed account numbers. 
Only 28% reported to any authority (e.g. police, FCC or FTC), and 29% contacted their phone carrier.

Americans receive on average 28 spam calls per month

Monthly spam received in the US (2020).

In this year’s report we saw that Americans receive 28.0 spam calls (mobile and/or landline) in an average month. Of these 20.0 were robocalls (i.e., automated calls) on average. 

Despite this being a marginal decrease compared to last year (31.7 spam calls per month) more than half of Americans (55%) report receiving more spam calls (on a mobile or landline) and/or text messages now than they did a year ago, while 18% say they receive fewer. 

We also found that nearly 9 in 10 Americans (87%) say they try to only answer calls if they can identify the person or business they are calling from.

Survey Methodology:

The phone scam survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller from March 20-24, 2020 among 2,024 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, of whom 441 have lost money to a phone scam in the past 12 months. The phone spam survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller from March 19-20, 2020 among 2,050 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

For complete survey methodology, including weighted variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact press@truecaller.com.

Earlier surveys referenced – conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller:

2019 phone scam survey March 19-21, 2019 among 2,030 U.S. adults

2019 phone spam survey March 21-25, 2019 among 2,040 U.S. adults

2018 phone scam survey March 13-15, 2018 among 2,036 U.S. adults

2018 phone spam survey March 22-26, 2018 among 2,049 U.S. adults

2015 phone spam survey November 17-19, 2015 among 2,104 U.S. adults

2014 phone scam survey July 18-22, 2014 among 2,040 U.S. adults

 *2019 U.S census data showed a U.S. adult population (ages 18 and older) of 254,713,869. Based on 22 percent of U.S. adults reporting losing money in a phone scam, the total number of phone scam victims in the U.S. was estimated to be 56,037,051. The average phone scam victim in the survey reported losing $351. This equates to a total of $19.7 billion.

Earlier reports can be found here: https://truecaller.blog/category/truecaller-insights/

About Truecaller:

People use Truecaller to stay ahead. It helps them know who’s getting in touch, filter out unwanted calls and SMS, and focus on what really matters. The company provides a suite of unique services such as a dialer that offers caller ID, spam detection, messaging and more. Truecaller’s mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safe and efficient. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the company was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico and Kleiner Perkins.

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm. We strive to reveal the authentic values of modern society to inspire leaders to create a better tomorrow. We work with clients in three primary areas; building a twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. Learn more at www.theharrispoll.com.