Phone Scams Bilked Americans Out Of $30 Billion in 2020

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Apparently, the best advice in 2021 is “just let it ring.”

Americans lost a record $29.8 billion to phone scams in 2020 — $10 billion more than in 2019, according to a new report.

Scammed From Home

Last year, Americans locked down under pandemic rules were pestered with an average of 30.7 spam calls — 21.5 of them robocalls — and 16.9 spam text messages every month, according to research firm Truecaller. And 23% of Americans fell for at least one scam, which meant a lucrative year for virtual grifters:

  • The average reported loss was a record $502 per scam, well up from $350 in 2019.
  • 59% of scam victims were men, according to the report. And despite the cliché of older folks being easy to scam, younger Americans were actually more prone to phone scams.

“Just a friendly reminder here, according to the Federal Trade Commission, any robocall trying to sell you something is illegal,” Truecaller said in its report, noting that robocalls actually fool 60% of their recipients. “The only exception is if the caller has written permission, directly from you, to call you in this way.”

Topical: Last year, 59% of Americans were hit with spam calls or texts related to COVID-19.