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Kaspersky report shows just how common scams are becoming on popular apps and websites

Kaspersky has released a new survey report, “Digital Uncertainty: Scams, Privacy and Artificial Intelligence,” revealing that users are frequently encountering scams on social media, dating apps, gaming platforms, banking and sports betting sites. Among the top findings were that 42% of users have encountered scams on online dating apps, 38% have encountered scams on Facebook and even 18% of users of online sports betting sites. Overall, 29% of users have actually fallen victim to some type of scam on one of these online platforms.

The survey also found that nearly six in ten users have had to change their password for security reasons in the past six months, and that 75% of consumers would like to see new privacy regulation in 2024.

Kaspersky data shows that one of the most common forms of scam – phishing attacks – grew by 40% in 2023. And, in recent years, online scams seeking to steal victims’ personal information and money have expanded beyond fraudulent emails and websites, now targeting users on social media, messaging apps, online gaming platforms and cryptocurrency exchanges. Scammers disguise themselves as everything from customer service representatives to online daters to celebrities, while AI tools make it easier than ever for them to operate.

In February 2024, Kaspersky surveyed 2,000 North American adults (in the U.S. and Canada) about their experiences with scams related to various online platforms, and also asked them about some of their digital habits, as well as their attitudes toward prominent issues affecting their security and privacy in 2024.

The survey found that 36% of Facebook Marketplace users have encountered scams on the platform, where scams can take various forms. Twenty-five percent of Instagram users have encountered scams on the app, followed by online gaming platforms (18% of users encountered scams), and online banking (15%).

Users also revealed the rates at which these scams have been successful. Twenty-four percent of dating app users said they’ve fallen victim to a scam on the apps, followed by Facebook (18%), Facebook Marketplace (18%), Instagram (15%), online sports betting (14%), online gaming (10%) and online banking (9%).

“There’s no corner of the internet that isn’t, to some extent, being infiltrated by bad actors looking to take advantage of people,” said Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher with Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team. “Consumers should always keep their guard up, apply a baseline level of skepticism and take basic steps to protect their online security, such as using multi-factor authentication, avoiding password reuse and limiting app permissions.”

The study also captured data about digital security and privacy habits that consumers would like to improve in 2024. Those included “being more mindful of the links I click on” (65% of respondents), “using stronger passwords” (57%), “being more careful about signing up for online services that ask for my personal data” (54%), “using multi-factor authentication” (49%), “Using a different password for each online account” (41%), “being more careful about limiting app permissions on my phone” (40%), “reducing my screen time” (22%), and “reducing my kids’ screen time” (10%).

Apart from scams, the survey asked about a number of other privacy-related issues about which respondents might have concerns, including artificial intelligence. A plurality of respondents (38%) said they believe AI will mainly hurt digital privacy and security in the future, compared to those who said it would help (18%), while 14% said “neither” and 30% said “unsure.” Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they are concerned about the use of AI-generated deepfake videos and voice recordings to spread misinformation online. Nearly half of respondents (48%) expressed privacy concerns related to augmented reality devices with facial recognition technology such as Apple Vision Pro.

On the issue of privacy regulation, 75% of consumers said they’d like to see new rules designed to protect users this year, compared to just 10% who answered “no” and 15% who were unsure.

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