Millennial men, hang onto your wallets. Phone scams are soaring, and you’re far more likely than any other group to get taken -- and taken big.
Roughly 22.1 million Americans lost an estimated $9.5 billion to phone scams last year -- up a whopping 56 percent from 2015, according to a new study sponsored by Truecaller, a spam-fighting phone app. That amounts to nearly one in every 10 American adults.
However, men between the ages of 18 and 34 are three-times more likely to be victimized than the overall population, according to Truecaller’s Harris poll of more than 2,000 adults. One-third of millennial males say they’ve lost money in a phone con, according to Truecaller.
Just 11 percent of millennial women lost money in a phone scam. However, both genders become more skeptical as they age. Only 9 percent of the average adult population has lost money in a phone scam.
“We don’t know why young men are so susceptible,” said Tom Hsieh, a vice president at Truecaller. “But one of the important things to understand is that no one is immune.”
Notably, telemarketing scams once mainly targeted landlines, but they’re increasing moving to the mobile world. In the past year, 72 percent of victims said they were contacted by cell. Two years ago, less than half of phone-scam victims were on a mobile line, according to the survey.
The average amount lost is also soaring, too. In 2016, it amounted to a $430 vs. $274 in 2015.
The scams run the gamut from fraudsters posing as IRS agents to those supposedly raising cash for charities, Hsieh added. By and large, the cons start with some form of robocall, which allows con artists to dial hundreds of numbers at once.
Truecaller’s latest survey found 87 percent of American adults said they’ve received at least one robocall call in the past month, and more than half reported that they received more than 10 spam calls a month. More than half -- 56 percent -- said they had also received at least one spam text per month, while 23 percent said they received six or more spam texts a month.
This research largely mirrors monthly data from YouMail, which also tracks spam calls. YouMail, which provides visual voicemail and spam-blocking services, said received U.S. robocalls rose 11 percent in March to an estimated 2.45 billion.
But residents of some cities are far more likely to receive spam calls than others. The YouMail Robocall Index finds the most robocalled cities are Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Memphis; New York; Little Rock, Arkansas; Macon, Georgia; New Orleans; Dallas and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Except in Atlanta -- where you get robocalls daily, residents of each of these cities receive an average of one robocall every two days.
These calls are more than a nuisance. They’re the entry point for most phone-based scams, experts say. The best way to avoid them is simple -- don’t pick up the phone. Scammers rarely leave a message.
You can also install antispam programs, such as those offered by YouMail, TrueCaller, Hiya and Nomorobo. All four services aim to identify incoming calls and hang up on phone numbers that have proven to be used by crooks and spammers.