Americans would choose root canal over year of scam texts

Most Americans would opt for a one-time root canal over a year of scam messages, according to a new study from McAfee.

Four in ten would prefer a 24-hour food poisoning to avoid the constant barrage of scam messages, while more than half of respondents said they would sleep in a haunted house for one night.

At 57%, most – if only marginally – would agree to do taxes every month rather than deal with scams, according to McAfee, the software security company behind the study. 54% said they would prefer a one-time root canal.

“It’s truly a sign of the times that most Americans 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, senior vice president of product at McAfee.

According to McAfee, the average American spends a shockingly long 94 minutes each week reviewing, verifying, or deciding whether a message sent through text, email, or social media is real or fake, amounting to more than two standard work weeks per year.

On average, people receive nearly 12 scam messages daily, and a new phishing website is baked out every 11 seconds, all facilitated by the cybercriminals’ new tool of choice: artificial intelligence (AI).

“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,” Majumder said.

The majority, 87% of Americans, said it was harder than ever to spot when a text, email, or social media message is a scam, according to the study, with over a third noticing scam messages becoming more personal and clean of typos and errors.

“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,” Majumder said.

The study also showed that two-thirds of Americans had clicked on or fallen for a scam. Almost half of those lost money as a result, with 15% reporting losses of more than $1,000.

The most popular type of scam message remains an enticing “You’ve won a prize!” with 62% of respondents in the US reporting that they’ve received one in the past year. It’s also the most effective, tricking a quarter of 65% of respondents who said that they believed some of the scam messages they received were real.

Other popular, if less convincing, scam messages include information about a purchase the recipient didn’t make, fake missed delivery notifications, or false notifications impersonating services like Amazon or Netflix.

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