Who Falls for Tech Scams?
Back in 2016, I reported on a study about who is most likely to fall for phone scams. Now that report has been updated with the results of a new survey of over 16,000 adults in 16 countries. There’s good and bad news in Microsoft's Global Tech Support Scam Research report. Read on for the details...
More Consumers Getting Wise To Tech Support Scams
Have you gotten an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft tech support agent. In this common scam, the caller says that there's a serious problem with your computer, and tries to scare the victim into paying for worthless "security" software. I wrote about this in my article Beware Fake Tech Support Scammers.
In my April 2016 article, Who Falls for Phone Scams?, I wrote that male millennials had the highest rate of gullibility to such scams, with 38% reporting they’d lost money in the past twelve months. The bad news, according to the new research report, is that young male adults are still the most likely demographic to fall for tech-related scams.
I suppose if you're not in that demographic, that's actually good news for you. But more broadly, people who grew up with the Internet are more likely to fall for tech support scams than older folks who remember rotary-dial phones. It seems younglings are over-confident in their expertise.
Millennials and Generation Z (basically, adults under age 35) engage in more risky online behavior overall, such as using email to trade media files, streaming movies or music, and patronizing Bittorrent sites. All of these activities make one vulnerable to scammers who substitute malware for the file that one expects, or offer links to malicious sites disguised as links to something more desirable. In this year’s survey, consumers who fell for scams were most often tricked into downloading malware (44%) or visiting a malicious web site (34%).
Millennials are also more likely to believe that reputable companies will reach out to people with unsolicited offers. No, son, Microsoft did not happen to notice that you’re having trouble with Skype; and if it did, it would wait for you to call for help.
Consumers Are Wising Up
On the bright side, consumer encounters with tech support scams declined a healthy five percent since the 2016 survey. Fewer people lost money to tech support scams, too – 6% in 2018 versus 9% in 2016. (An additional 8% spent time and money inspecting and repairing their PCs after encounters with tech support scams.) There were 12% fewer scams requesting Social Security Numbers (or their international equivalents). It seems people are wising up!
Seventy-five percent of consumers think it unlikely that reputable companies would initiate unsolicited contact, and 83% would distrust such contact. Those indicators of healthy skepticism are up 12 and 17 points, respectively. Seventy-six percent of those who encountered tech support scams said they suffered moderate to severe stress as a result. More than 70% said they came away from encounters with scams less confident that tech companies or software can protect them from scams.
In response to a hypothetical unsolicited tech support offer, 38% said they would try to block contact with the company, while 31% said they would spend some time researching the company and its offer via search engines and company websites.
What has been your experience with tech-related scams recently? Do you encounter them more or less often? How have they changed? Your thoughts are welcome in the comments below.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Oct 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Who Falls for Tech Scams? (Posted: 25 Oct 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved