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Tech Support Scams Decline as Consumers Get Savvy

Global exposure to and losses from tech support scams has dropped over the past two years as consumers become more savvy, although in the UK the number suffering financially increased slightly, according to Microsoft.

The computing giant polled over 16,000 internet users in 16 countries worldwide to better understand how trends are evolving.

The latest figures revealed that 63% of consumers experienced a tech support scam, down from 68% in 2016. Those who lost money fell from 6% to 3%.

However, alongside direct monetary loss, a further 8% of consumers spent time and money checking and ‘repairing’ their PCs. That’s not to mention the 76% who reported moderate to severe stress as the result of being hit by a scam.

The report claimed that fewer pop-up ads and windows have helped reduce consumer exposure to the scams. These typically masquerade as alerts from a reputable provider like Microsoft and trick the victim into believing that their machine has been infected.

Consumers are also becoming more skeptical about unsolicited contact from a tech support ‘operative.’

Over a third (38%) said that if they were contacted by ‘tech support’ they’d try to block the company the scammer claimed to come from and 33% would look up the issue online.

Interestingly, younger netizens are more likely to be tricked into handing over their money. This may be because a higher percentage are exposed to pop-ups because of visiting high-risk torrent sites and similar. Microsoft also warned that these more ‘tech savvy’ youngsters are more likely to be over-confident.

Although the overall figures for tech support scam victims appears to be coming down globally, the UK bucked the trend.

Here, 62% of respondents said they had experienced a scam, with 6% losing money as a result, an increase from just 2% in 2016.

Microsoft urged UK victims to contact Action Fraud.

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