According to Microsoft, 69% of the UK’s PC users have fallen victims to tech support scams that include unsolicited phone calls, emails, pop-ups or redirects. Surprisingly, 1 in 10 of the users fall prey to the scams and some have even lost money.
Surprisingly, illennials aged between 18 and 34 years were more likely to be deceived by support scams rather than the elderly, which might be due to the fact that users of the mentioned age group have a closer alliance to tech.
Elderly citizens were specifically targeted via cold-calling campaigns to scare them into paying for a fictitious security problem, while modern scams adopt the pop-up online ads approach. Common scam tactics include emails, pop-ups, and now redirects. Apparently, the latest study shows that the change in strategy seems to be working for scammers, and half the users aged between 18 and 34 years are “continuing with a fraudulent interaction” after being exposed to the scam.
Such scams could be avoided if people are adequately aware that Microsoft would never establish a direct communication link with its customers whether through an email, a call or a message; it is on the user to initiate communication with Microsoft. But in light of recent outcomes, it looks like the young need to receive ample education about phony tech support approaches.
Regardless of the method used, the goal remains the same: gain access to the victim’s PC and perform malicious actions that include installing malware, hijacking personal and financial information, turning off antivirus protection, or installing software that allows hackers to access the computer well after the so-called “support session” ends.
Microsoft advises its users to not let anyone access their personal information or gain control of their computers before proper identity verification and to keep a record of the contact information of potential scammers so that they can report it to the police.
“Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you,” Microsoft adds. “Tech support should not be contacting you first – ever.”
Microsoft conducts deep studies often and suggests that core target areas for support scams are the US, India, and China.
In India, 80% of users have had a scam experience, and 22% of them ended up with a financial loss. Moreover, the US population didn’t fall much behind with a massive 79% users coming across a scam and 20% of them losing money. Comparatively, Brits, Australians, Canadians, and Europeans do far better and were less likely to be exposed to scams.
As far as user protection is concerned, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit investigates fraud and tech support scams that hunt naive users and also supports law enforcement and government consumer protection agencies in their efforts against scammers.
For more information on how to protect yourself, visit Microsoft’s advice site here.