In today’s hyper-connected world, where digital communication has become an indispensable tool, the prevalence of scam messages has become an alarming reality. According to the latest study titled “Global Scam Message” by McAfee Corp, Indians receive an average of 12 fake messages or fraudulent schemes every day via email, text, or social media platforms.
The impact of this relentless flood of digital scams is nothing short of profound. The average Indian consumer dedicates 1.75 hours, or 105 minutes, each week to review and verify the legitimacy of these deceptive messages. Although this may appear as a minor time commitment, it adds up to 91 productive hours each year, wasted in the relentless task of scam-spotting.
In a groundbreaking move, McAfee Corp. has unveiled its first-ever Global Scam Message study, which surveyed more than 7,000 adults in seven countries, including India. The primary objective was to understand how scam messages and the increased scam sophistication brought about by artificial intelligence (AI) have impacted the lives of smartphone users in India.
Rise of Scam Messages in India: Main Highlights
- A striking 82% of surveyed Indians have either clicked or fallen for a scam, resulting in millions of financial losses.
- 49% of respondents observed that these scam messages are now crafted with such precision that they contain no typos or errors, making them more convincing and harder to identify.
- Approximately 90% of surveyed Indians revealed that they receive fake messages or scams via email and text on a daily basis, while 84% reported encountering these fraudulent messages or scams on their preferred social media platforms.
- A whopping 72% of surveyed Indians have received “You’ve won a prize!” such kind of fake text messages on their mobile phones.
- Among the most common forms of sophisticated deception, the majority 64% of Indian consumers, fall for fake job notifications or offers and 52% for bank alert messages.
- Cybercriminals often employ “job notifications” and “bank alerts” as two of the most common forms of sophisticated deception. Approximately 64% of Indian consumers are frequently deceived by fake job notifications or offers, while 52% have fallen for the allure of counterfeit bank alert messages.
Cybercriminals Exploit AI for Scams
AI (Artificial Intelligence) has become the preferred tool of cybercriminals, enabling them to enhance both the scale and sophistication of their scam messages. The speed of phishing and text message scams is accelerating, with a new phishing site emerging every 11 seconds. This underscores the urgent need for solutions that can outsmart AI scammers, especially in a counry like India where 900 million internet users face an unprecedented threat.
“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.
The infusion of AI-powered sophistication into text messages or bank alerts makes it challenging for users to distinguish between the real and phoney. In fact, it’s become such a head-scratching challenge that a whopping 73% of Indians now believe they have a better shot at solving a Rubik’s cube than identifying a scam message.
As the prevalence of AI-powered scams continues to rise, 37% of Indian survey participants have reported declining trust in digital communications. This trust erosion can be largely attributed to the widespread lack of understanding and knowledge about how to defend against such scams. Many individuals are uncertain about whether they are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves online, and this uncertainty is eroding their trust in the digital world. It highlights the importance of enhancing awareness and digital defence measures to regain trust and security in the ever-changing digital landscape.
Sophisticated Deception Takes Many Forms
The McAfee study highlights several common forms of sophisticated trickery, including:
- “You’ve won a prize!” – 72%
- Fake job notifications or offers – 64%
- Bank alert messages – 52%
- Information about a purchase the recipient didn’t make – 37%
- Netflix (or similar) subscription updates – 35%
- Fake missed delivery, or delivery problem, notifications – 29%
- Amazon security alerts or notifications regarding account updates – 27%
- 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%
The battle against these fake messages and scams in India is growing more intense, emphasizing the crucial need for heightened vigilance and advanced cybersecurity measures in the digital age.