Microsoft details emerging Internet phone scam which tricks 22% of people

By Tom Warren, on 16th Jun 11 9:05 am with 11 Comments

Microsoft released the findings of a new survey on Thursday into an emerging Internet scam.

The latest scam targets English speaking individuals and costs victims an average of $875 according to the software giant. The scammers call people at home and post as security experts and engineers to trick people into thinking their computer is at risk of a security threat. “The scammers tell their victims they are providing free security checks,” says Microsoft. Some people have been tricked into permitting remote access to their computers and downloading software provided by the scammers. There are even cases where people have purchased software from the scammers, providing their credit card information.

Microsoft surveyed 7,000 computer users in the UK, US, Ireland and Canada. Around 15% of people had received calls from the scammers across the four countries, this rose to 26% in Ireland. Of those who received a scam call, 22% were deceived into following the scammers’ instructions. The vast majority (79%) of people deceived suffered some type of financial loss:

  • 17% said they had money taken from their accounts
  • 19% reported comprised passwords
  • 17% were victims of ID fraud
  • 53% said they suffered subsequent computer issues

The average amount of money stolen was $875. “The security of software is improving all the time, but at the same time we are seeing cybercriminals increasingly turn to tactics of deception to trick people in order to steal from them,” said Richard Saunders, director of International Public and Analyst Relations at Microsoft. “Criminals have proved once again that their ability to innovate new scams is matched by their ruthless pursuit of our money.” Microsoft is offering the following advice to avoid becoming a victim of the new scam:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited calls related to a security problem, even if they claim to represent a respected company.
  • Never provide personal information, such as credit card or bank details, to an unsolicited caller.
  • Do not go to a website, type anything into a computer, install software or follow any other instruction from someone who calls out of the blue.
  • Take the caller’s information down and pass it to the authorities.
  • Use up-to-date versions of Windows and application software.
  • Make sure security updates are installed regularly.
  • Use a strong password and change it regularly.
  • Make sure the firewall is turned on and that antivirus software is installed and up to date.
  • AlienSix

    Common sense people…oh wait

    • the-hq
    • Anonymous

      Well, 78% of us have it so I haven’t completely lost faith in humanity…yet.

    • Tom W

      Yeah if someone called me asking to remote to my computer I’d be a little taken back.

    • Michiel Papp

      Yeah, verry good anti-virus and anti-scam tool.

      Just installed the common sense 2011 version. Despite it having the same function as the previous version it still works with almost 100% effecience!(Only fails when i’ve been using large amounts of booze).

  • Greig Mitchell

    I’ve actually had a couple of these phone calls myself (and from the same people) I just leave the phone off the hook and walk away hehe. :)

  • Glenn

    These calls have been going on for about a year in Australia. I’ve been called at least 3 times and most of my friends at least once.
    I either tell them the police can trace the call (they hang up pretty quick) or I say Gimmie a couple of minutes to turn the PC on and just put the phone down and walk off.

  • Anonymous

    Emerging? I’ve been getting these calls in the UK for well over 12 months. I get them at least once a month and as it happens got one yesterday. On most occasions they end up using language most unfitting for a supposed Microsoft employee!

  • Tristan

    yeah, I know a few people that got bit by this about a year ago. And they still believe Microsoft legitimately called them. :sigh

  • Anonymous

    I fell for that but no problem because I’m going to get my money back and way more as soon as that Nigerian inhertiance money arrives.

  • Anonymous

    I fell for that but no problem because I’m going to get my money back and way more as soon as that Nigerian inhertiance money arrives.