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27M Americans Lost an Average of $274 in Phone Scams Last Year, According to New Report from Truecaller

Consumer poll on phone scam and spam shows that approximately 11 percent of American adults were victimized by a phone scam in the past 12 months, a 53% increase from last year, with a total projected loss of $7.4 billion

San Francisco, CA – WEBWIRE

Truecaller today announced findings from its second annual study on the impact of phone scams and phone spam in the U.S. Two online surveys were conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller in 2015 among U.S. adults age 18+, addressing the amount of money Americans lost through phone scams over 12 months, and the actions being taken following a scam or spam call or text to their phone.

According to the study, approximately 1 in every 10 American adults (11%) lost money from a phone scam in the past 12 months, which represents a 53% increase over the 2014 survey, where phone scams victims accounted for only 1 out of every 14 adults (7%). The result of these scams has been projected to cost 27M Americans approximately $7.4 billion, with an average loss of $274 per victim*.

“For as much progress as we’ve made in areas of fraud detection and caller ID, phone scams and spam on our mobile devices continue to increase at an astonishing rate,” Tom Hsieh, VP of Growth and Partnerships at Truecaller. “We think this should sound an alarm to millions of unsuspecting Americans who continue to lose out on billions of dollars every year, yet still aren’t taking the proper precautions they need to protect themselves from becoming a victim, or identifying important calls they should be taking because they aren’t able to recognize the source of the number.”

Scammers Targeting Mobile Phones, Men and Millennials

An interesting trend is a noticeable increase in scam calls occurring on mobile phones as opposed to landlines, with nearly three fourths of victims (74%) claiming mobile is where the incidence took place in 2015. The 2014 study showed that only 49% of adults who lost money claimed that it took place on mobile phones, while scam calls to landlines remained about the same, 34% in 2015, compared to 36% in 2014.

The study also found that US adult males were twice as likely to report losing money in a phone scam than US women (15% as opposed to 8%) and millennials, between the ages of 18-34, are the most vulnerable to losing money in a phone scam. Among the target group of millennials, the likelihood of losing money in a phone scam is much greater than the 11% adult American average, with men ages 18-34 representing 38%, and women ages 18-34 representing 17% of all phone scam victims.

As a result of being scammed, 9 in 10 (91%) of those victimized said they took some action as a result, including 1 in every 3 (34%), or approximately 9M Americans, who have changed their phone numbers and only 1 in every 4 (24%) have reported it to the authorities.

Here’s a further breakdown of other actions phone scam victims reported taking:

  • 39% signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry

  • 20% downloaded a spam blocker and 19% downloaded a caller ID app

  • 34% changed phone number

  • 32% used “reverse look-up” or searched phone number to try and identify caller

  • 30% cancelled credit card or changed account numbers

  • 27% signed up for credit protection/monitoring

  • 25% contacted phone carrier

  • 24% reported it to authorities (police, FCC, FTC)

  • 21% checked phone bill

  • 9% did nothing

Phone Spam Proliferates With the Elderly a Prime Target for Telemarketers

Outside of scam victims, the survey took a close look at incidences of mobile phone spam and what Americans are doing to protect themselves. The research found that 86% of Americans say they have received at least one spam call on their landline or mobile phone in the past month, and more than half (53%) of Americans have received a spam text in the past month.

On average, Americans receive 15.8 spam calls (mobile and/or landline) and 6.3 spam text messages in an average month. Over a 12-month period, that is roughly 48 billion spam-related calls and more than 17 billion spam texts.** A vast majority (79%) of Americans say they received the same or more spam calls (mobile or landline) now than they did last year, and older adults ages 55-64 and seniors (65+) report higher averages of spam calls per month (18.5 and 22.7, respectively) compared to younger adults ages 18-44 (12.3).

The survey also detailed how people react to calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Worth noting is that 64% of Americans say they completely ignore calls from unknown numbers.

Here’s the complete breakdown for each:

Action taken for an unknown number

  • Ignore Completely (64%);

  • Attempt to Block or Report Number (29%);

  • Try to track down source of number (25%);

  • Answer and hang up immediately (22%);

  • Answer or respond right away (11%);

  • Use call-back feature (11%);

  • Respond later (8%)

Americans also show common emotional actions to unsolicited calls. Annoyance and frustration are the most common emotions cited when receiving spam calls or texts.

Sentiment for different types of spam calls/texts

  • Unknown number or anonymous user: Annoyance (52%); Frustration (26%); Enraged (15%); Afraid (11%); Helpless (7%)

  • Live telemarketer: Annoyance (64%); Frustration (29%); Enraged (19%); Afraid (3%); Helpless (6%)

  • Automated telemarketer/Robocaller: Annoyance (65%); Frustration (33%); Enraged (21%); Afraid (2%); Helpless (8%)

  • Suspected Scammer or Fraudster: Annoyance (57%); Frustration (33%); Enraged (31%); Afraid (13%); Helpless (6%)

  • Political robocalls or robotexts: Annoyance (56%); Frustration (26%); Enraged (15%); Afraid (2%); Helpless (6%)

Survey Methodology

Two surveys were conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller via its Quick Query omnibus product in 2015. The first one was conducted November 12-16, 2015 among 2,023 adults aged 18 and older of which 134 have lost money in a phone scam in the past 12 months. The next was conducted from November 17-19, 2015 among 2,104 adults ages 18 and older.

The 2014 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller via its Quick Query omnibus product, from July 18-22, 2014 among 2,040 adults ages 18 and older, of which 135 have lost money in a phone scam in the past 12 months.

These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For additional questions or complete survey methodology, please contact .

About Truecaller

Truecaller is one of the leading mobile communication applications in the world with services in caller ID, spam detection and search. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Truecaller was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. Its applications can be downloaded for free on all major mobile app platforms.  For more information visit

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll.  Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

*2014 U.S. Census data showed a U.S. adult population (ages 18 and older) of 245,273,438. Based on 11 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 26.9 million. The average phone scam victim in the survey reported losing $274. This equates to an average of $27.40 among all adult Americans (including those who didn’t report losing any money in a phone scam).

**The average American adults receives 15.8 spam calls in a month, when multiplied by the U.S. adult population (245,273,428) that equals an average of 3,924,375,008 spam calls per month. Multiply this monthly figure by 12 months and this equals an average of 47,092,500,096 spam calls per year. The average American adults receives 6.3 spam texts in a month, when multiplied by the U.S. adult population (245,273,428) that equals an average of 1,471,640,628 spam texts. Multiply this monthly figure by 12 months and this equals an average of 17,659,687,536 spam texts per year.


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