Microsoft survey points to prevalence of phone security scams

Darren Allan

June 17, 2011

Microsoft has conducted a survey into the latest form of security scam which involves phoning up computer owners and attempting to trick them into believing there’s something wrong with their machine’s security.

Should they get a live bite on the other end of the phone, the scammer then proceeds to run through a number of “security checks” which allow them to pinch money from the victim.

The survey questioned 7,000 people across the UK, Ireland, US and Canada to see who had encountered this type of scam, with 15% saying they had. Ireland saw a particularly high result with 26%.

Of those who got a call, one in five fell for the scam, or 3% of the people questioned. Some of these gave remote access to their PC up, others allowed malware to be installed, and some actually provided credit card details to buy false security software.

Of the victims, 80% suffered some sort of financial loss or identity fraud, and 50% had problems with their tampered computer afterwards. On average, the amount of money stolen was £540.

Microsoft goes on to issue some common sense advice – don’t ever give out any password, computer or financial details to unsolicited callers, and be “suspicious” of unsolicited calls relating to computer security problems.

We’d be more than suspicious… we’re actually surprised this sort of scam isn’t more prevalent than 15% on average, as we’ve had a couple of these calls ourselves in the past few months.






 

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