Windows tech support scams are on the rise, says Microsoft


Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
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Despite Microsoft’s strong efforts with law enforcement authorities to crack down tech support scams, their number has risen. Latest Microsoft reports note 24% more customer complaints regarding tech support scams in 2017 compared to 2016. This percentage describes a number of 153,000 customer reports. 15% of users also lost between $200 and $400 to attackers.

FBI’s findings join Microsoft’s

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported similar results that show a rise in tech support scams during 2017 – around 11,000 complaints, meaning 86% more since 2016. According to the FBI reports, scammers stole almost $15 million just last year. FBI’s numbers also seem on the loose even if they’re smaller compared to Microsoft’s complaints due to the latter’s more extensive user base among other reasons.

Attackers remain old-fashioned

Tech support scammers have been using their good ol’ techniques for a while without having any mind-blowing innovative strategies. These include the following:

  • Calls from attackers posing as staff support
  • Emails from scammers posing as real support staffers
  • Websites that trap you using popups
  • Websites that flaunt fake antivirus ads and “signs” that your system is infected
  • Malware that displays fake error messages

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The elderly and millennials are the main targets

Windows users are not the only target of tech support scammers, as other OSs have also been attacked. In some cases, scammers also posed as FBI’s IC3 division. Previous analysis of the giant tech company showed that most targets are elderly users and the reason is pretty obvious – their thin skills in computers and software. Now, a survey shows that more than half of tech support scams victims are millennials. In other words, despite their lack of general knowledge regarding computers, the elderly seem to have begun recognizing cyber attacks and scams.

Even if there are plenty of guides and tips online regarding enhancing your security and skills to recognize a scam, it seems that people still continue to fall victims to cyber attackers even if they don’t necessarily come up with the most innovative techniques especially in the tech supports scams’ area.

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