Report: Americans Lost Record Amount of Money to Phone Scams in 2020

Report: Americans Lost Record Amount of Money to Phone Scams in 2020


To say that 2020 was a pretty bad year across the board would be a gross understatement. For another example of how terrible the prior calendar year was, look no further than a recent report from Yahoo Money that indicates that Americans lost more money last year to phone scams as a direct result of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.

The report indicates that the high number of people stuck at home and with little else to do resulted in a massive uptick in the number of people getting into “get rich quick” schemes. Chief among these schemes are old-fashioned phone scams.

Phone Scams Were More Frequent than Ever in 2020

The last year saw roughly one in six Americans targeted by a phone scam, according to official reports from Truecaller ID. Those who were victimized by the scams lost an average of $502, per a Harris poll, which was up from an average of $351 in losses in 2019.

All told, Americans lost nearly $30 billion to phone scams in 2020 alone. For scammers, experts say, it’s just a matter of making enough calls to find a suitable victim.

How Do Phone Scammers Choose Their Victims?

Randomly calling numbers until you find a vulnerable person isn’t exactly difficult. Phone scammers often lack finesse, expertise, morals, and even basic problem-solving skills. However, they don’t lack patience. The trick to making money as a phone scammer, experts say, is making enough calls to find the ideal mark.

The kinds of people that phone scammers are able to squeeze the most money out of are the people who are lonely, isolated, and easily intimidated. The trick for avoiding these kinds of scams is not giving in when confronted by someone who sounds authoritative on the phone.

Why Phone Calls?

Scammers often prefer phone calls because there are tools that allow them to scramble their own numbers. Also, it’s easier to sound intimidating when you’ve got someone on an open line than it does via text or email. Anyone can claim to be from the sheriff’s department or IRS over the phone, even though these agencies are unlikely to attempt to contact you through phone calls, with a little acting.

The best way to avoid scam calls is to just use your best judgment when you’re confronted with a bizarre scenario. The odds are good that your grandson isn’t actually going to be thrown in jail unless you send a sheriff a $300 Google Play gift card. Keep your cool and you’ll be able to tell scammers to hit the road and leave you alone.