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, including India, to understand how scam messages, and the increased scam sophistication brought about by artificial intelligence (AI), have impacted the lives of consumers worldwide.
AI is a scammer’s favorite tool, helping cybercriminals increase the scale and sophistication of scam messages. The speed of phishing and text message scams is on the rise - a new phishing site is created every 11 seconds. This spotlights the increasing need for solutions that turn the tables on AI scammers; there has never been a more critical time for the country’s 900 million internet users to protect themselves online.
This study reveals that Indians receive nearly 12 fake messages or scams each day via email, text or social media daily. An average Indian consumer spends 1.8 hours a week reviewing, verifying or deciding whether a message sent through text, email, social media is real or fake. 82% of Indians have clicked on or fallen for fake messages. 49% of Indians said that scam messages no longer have typos or errors, making them more believable and harder to identify. Amongst the most common forms of sophisticated trickery, the most Indian consumers fall for fake job notifications or offers (64%) and bank alert messages (52%).
“It’s truly a sign of the times that most Indian consumers 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 73% of Indians 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. It highlights the increased stress people are facing due to the AI driven increase in the number and sophistication of scam messages. Hence, the need for a robust AI-driven defense solution to beat AI scams. The survey results are detailed below.
Today’s scam messages are cleverly camouflaged
60% of Indian respondents think it has become harder to identify scam messages, attributing this trend to hackers using AI to make their scams more believable. Further, 49% of people said 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:
“You’ve won a prize!” – 72%
Fake job notifications or offers – 64%
Bank alert message– 52%
Information about a purchase the recipient didn’t make – 37%
Netflix (or similar) subscription updates – 35%
Fake missed delivery, or delivery problem, notification – 29%
Amazon security alert, or notification messages regarding account updates – 27%
People are drowning in a scam message sea
An average Indian spends 105 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. About 90% of Indians surveyed indicate that they receive fake messages or scams via email and text on a daily basis, and 84% say the same about social media.
To click, or not to click, is a potentially complicated question
With the increased volume and more advanced appearance of scam messages, 82% of Indians have clicked on or fallen for fake messages. The most believed messages are:
“You’ve won a prize!” – 41%
Fake missed delivery, or delivery problem, notification – 23%
Information about a purchase the recipient didn’t make – 24%
Sign in and location verification messages – 24%
An AI ally is needed as scam stakes rise and online trust sinks
As the number of AI-powered scams continues to rise, 37% of India survey respondents say their trust in digital communications has decreased. This trend is largely due to a lack of depth of digital defense knowledge. Most Indians say they don’t know if they are doing the right things to protect themselves. People manage this knowledge gap in different ways:
28% of people ignore an email, when they receive an email or text that they think might be a scam
28% block the sender when they receive this type of message
31% report suspected scam messages
However, people do believe in new, AI-driven tools and resources to fight fraudsters: 88% of Indians say they’d trust a solution or feature that uses AI to detect online scams, and 59% believe we need AI to beat AI.
How to Protect Yourself from Scam Messages
Think before you click. Cybercriminals use phishing emails or fake sites to lure people into clicking links that could lead to malware. If you receive an email asking you to click on a link, even if it’s a great-sounding deal or indicates it’ll provide useful information, it’s best to avoid interacting with the message altogether. Always go direct to the source and interact with reputable companies.
Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many scams are effective because the scammer creates a false sense of urgency or preys on a heightened emotional state. Pause before you rush to interact with any message that is threatening or urgent, especially if it is from an unknown or unlikely sender.
Use AI to beat AI. From blocking dangerous links that appear on text messages, social media, or web browsers, customers across all platforms can take advantage of the AI-driven technology behind McAfee Scam Protection to engage with text messages, read emails, and browse the web peacefully and securely.