Microsoft research confirms tech support scams still exist

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The Visitor's Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.Source: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft

If you thought tech support scams were out of the mainstream picture, think again. They’re still alive and well in 2021, out to swindle people and cause trouble. On the bright side, they’re on the decline compared to previous years, according to new information shared by Microsoft.

In the blog post announcing its newest batch of research, Microsoft said it receives roughly 6,500 complaints per month from tech support fraud victims. That compares favorably to the 13,000 monthly reports Microsoft received in previous years. To measure how tech support scams are holding up these days, Microsoft commissioned YouGov to gather 16 countries’ worth of data on said scams, resulting in info from roughly 1,000 people per nation. The United States, United Kingdom, Colombia, Finland, Spain, Netherlands, India, and France were among the countries involved.

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Microsoft highlighted a few key findings from its research:

  • Three out of five consumers have encountered a tech support scam in the last 12 months.
  • One out of six consumers was tricked into continuing with the scam, often leading to victims losing hundreds of dollars to the fraudsters.
  • Millennials (aged 24-37) and Gen Zers (aged 18-23) have the highest exposure to tech support scams.
  • One out of 10 millennials and one out of 10 Gen Zers that encountered a scam fell for it and lost money.
  • Among those who continued with a scam, the most common issue experienced during the interaction was computer problems (30%), followed by compromised passwords (23%) and fraudulent use of credit/debit/store cards (18%).

You can take a closer look at the research’s findings by reading the full 53-page report yourself. However, if you want the cliff notes version, Microsoft’s chosen highlights sum up the key takeaway: Millennials and Zoomers have a target painted on their backs, and 90% of them are smart enough to know it.

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