McAfee has released its inaugural Global Scam Message Study. This study, involving over 7,000 participants across seven countries, including India, delves into the impact of scam messages and the escalating sophistication of scams fueled by artificial intelligence (AI).
AI’s Pivotal Role in Scams
AI is the scammer’s weapon of choice, enabling them to scale up and enhance the sophistication of their fraudulent messages. Phishing and text message scams are surging, with a new phishing site emerging every 11 seconds.
These findings underscore the growing necessity for solutions that counter AI scammers. It’s a critical moment for India’s 900 million internet users to safeguard themselves online.
Alarming Scam Message Statistics
The McAfee study reveals that Indians contend with nearly 12 fake messages or scams daily, arriving through email, text, or social media. The average Indian consumer invests 1.8 hours weekly scrutinizing, verifying, or discerning the authenticity of messages.
Worryingly, 82% of Indians have succumbed to fake messages, and 49% note that these scams are becoming error-free and hence more convincing. Among the deceptions, Indians frequently fall for fake job notifications or offers (64%) and bank alert messages (52%).
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%
Scam Messages’ Clever Camouflage
Recognizing scam messages has become increasingly challenging, with 60% of Indian respondents citing this difficulty, primarily due to hackers employing AI for more convincing scams. A significant 49% report that scam messages no longer contain typos or errors, making them highly believable.
Widespread Impact of Scam Messages
On average, Indians spend 105 minutes each week differentiating real messages from scams. That’s more than two full work weeks annually spent on scam identification. An overwhelming 90% of Indians receive fake messages or scams via email and text daily, and 84% face the same issue on social media.
As AI-driven scams multiply, 37% of Indian respondents report diminished trust in digital communication. This drop is largely attributed to a lack of deep knowledge about digital defense.
In response, 88% of Indians express trust in AI-driven tools and resources to combat fraudsters, with 59% believing that AI is needed to combat AI.
Protecting Yourself from Scam Messages
- Think before you click.
- Be cautious of messages that seem too good to be true.
- Use AI to counter AI, employing McAfee Scam Protection for safe online interactions.
With scams on the rise and becoming more sophisticated, it’s imperative for users to remain vigilant and leverage AI-driven solutions to protect themselves online.
Regarding the study, Roma Majumder, SVP of Product at McAfee, said,
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. 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.