AI Scams and Usage on the Rise: Americans' Perspectives

It’s hard to disagree that AI has made its way into many aspects of our lives, from everyday activities like education and communication to business and science. Its emergence has become a key part of further innovations in the 21st century. By opening up new opportunities in various fields, AI has proven itself as a highly valuable technology that can rival human brain skills. However, while the technology is expected to drive further innovation and benefit people, it has also created new opportunities for scammers and fraudsters, leading to distrust and fear among the public.

Thus, early in 2024, with the help of complex AI tools, scammers created a deepfake of a bank’s CFO along with employee voices, faces, and speech patterns, tricking a bank employee in Hong Kong into transferring around $25 million to the scammers. This incident and a number of similar consistently happening cases can not but impact public attitude to AI. 

How AI affects public fear of scams

To see what Americans really think about AI, Talker Research has conducted a double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general-population Americans on behalf of BOSS Revolution

With an increasing number of criminal cases linked to the use of AI, the fear of more sophisticated and hard-to-detect frauds is growing stronger. Thus, 48% out of 2,000 adult American respondents feel less “scam-savvy” than ever before due to the rise of AI. In contrast, only 18% of interviewees say they are “very confident” and can identify a scam before falling victim to it.As we are on the threshold of the new era today, the line between real and artificial words is increasingly blurring, which causes great anxiety in people. Their most common concerns related to AI include the probability of failing to identify a potential scam. One in three Americans admits that it would be difficult for them to identify a potential scam if the scammer was trying to impersonate someone they know. Moreover, 68% of respondents said they were afraid of failing to detect fake news, 67% were worried about the possibility of receiving calls from robo-callers with realistic voices, and 62% were anxious about the probability of getting texts from scammers using familiar phone numbers.

These fears can hardly be called groundless or far-fetched. The survey revealed that 34% of respondents suffered from scam in one way or another with 22% of them having experienced an incident over 5 years ago. For the remaining respondents, the impacts of the scam are still fresh. Thus, 40% of the people targeted by scams were affected during the last year, and 8% of them ‒ within the last month, which indicates a significant increase in scams over the past year. 

Common types of AI scams

There are several most common tactics are typically used to obfuscate potential victims. Thus, 29% of respondents got into the trap of a fake sale or listing, 29% suffered from fake and fraudulent financial operations, and 28% were affected by email phishing of some form.

Obviously, people are worried about emerging types of fraud that are hard to detect. In this way, implementing effective security measures could minimize the number of incidents and create a safe scam-free environment. When Americans were asked what area requires the most protection against scams, they overwhelmingly chose financial operations ‒ 49% of respondents believe this is the most critical area for protection. 15% of interviewees selected emails, and 14% ‒ online sales.

As clear from the above survey findings, Americans see what AI is capable of in the wrong hands and are worried about how it could affect them

Public attitude to AI

The experiences of interacting with AI can vary. While some people report negative impacts of AI scams, many others regularly benefit from this technology. The survey showed that almost 4 in 10 participants (38%) reported a positive attitude to AI. Though the integration may not be as advanced as in the legal or medical fields, 64% of respondents use AI to answer common questions, 43% delegate tasks they are reluctant to do, and 42% use AI to translate languages.

Still, many Americans are wary of AI. The number of respondents reporting a more negative attitude to AI was 31%, which is only slightly less than those with a positive outlook. At the top of their concerns are data and privacy issues (67%), fear of AI becoming uncontrollable (65%), and fraud (61%).

However, even with almost a third of surveyed having a negative opinion about AI, 38% of all respondents admit they’re likely to use AI for everyday tasks. When asked what tasks they would use AI for, 48% indicated translating languages, 48% ‒ writing texts or emails, and 41% would use AI to choose recipes to cook. Whether planned or not, 21% said they interact with artificial intelligence daily, with almost a third (31%) doing so several times weekly.

AI & Finance

Still, the majority of respondents (69%) think that AI has had a major or significant impact on financial scams. When discussing the AI’s influence on the financial safety of individuals, 25% of respondents said they believe it can positively affect their financial safety, 41% had an opposite point of view, and 34% of interviewees could not support either positive or negative opinions.

As Americans send money to other people around twice a month, they opt for digital money remittance services. The interviewees stated that the most common reasons for choosing them are convenience (50%), ease (32%), and the recipient's long-distance location (16%). Only 14% of respondents reported using this service because they believe it's safer.

No matter how much Americans interact with AI, and almost regardless of a positive or negative attitude toward this technology, 80% of all respondents agreed on the need for tighter AI regulation.

How Americans leverage AI

Undoubtedly,  work, pastimes, and communication habits determine how people use AI. Based on the survey results, 44% of Americans questioned utilize AI through a company’s chat or messaging service, and 26% ‒ through email. Other forms of interaction with AI include social media, which was reported by 37% of respondents, text messages ‒ by 31%, and over-the-phone communication ‒ by 31%. Finally, 25% of the interviewed Americans use AI through a home assistant speaker.

Wrapping up

In historical terms, AI is still in its infancy, yet in less than a decade, it has become the center of technological debate. While Americans are willing to use AI tools, they remain cautious of the threats these tools could bring them, especially in the form of more sophisticated scams. As AI continues to develop and spread its influence on many spheres of life, a vast majority of people wish to see greater regulation and caution to help curb the use of AI tools in the wrong hands.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by BOSS Revolution between June 5 and June 10, 2024. It was conducted by market research company Talker Research, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society (MRS) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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