Internet Scam Costs Victims on Average USD $875, Microsoft Survey Reveals Reveals

Microsoft's findings of a survey into an emerging form of Internet scam that targets English-language markets and costs victims on average $875 (U.S.). Microsoft surveyed 7,000 computer users in the U.K., Ireland, U.S. and Canada. The survey showed that across all four countries, 15% of people had received a call from scammers. In Ireland this […]

Microsoft's findings of a survey into an emerging form of Internet scam that targets English-language markets and costs victims on average $875 (U.S.). Microsoft surveyed 7,000 computer users in the U.K., Ireland, U.S. and Canada. The survey showed that across all four countries, 15% of people had received a call from scammers. In Ireland this rose to 26%.

"The vast majority (79%) of people deceived in this way suffered some sort of financial loss. 17% said they had money taken from their accounts, 19% reported compromised passwords and 17% were victims of identity fraud. More than half (53%) said they suffered subsequent computer problems," revealed Microsoft.

"Across all four countries surveyed, the average amount of money stolen was $875 (U.S.), ranging from $82 (U.S.) in Ireland up to $1,560 (U.S.) in Canada. The average cost of repairing damage caused to computers by the scammers was $1,730 -- rising to $4,800 in the U.S."

"The scam works by criminals posing as computer security engineers and calling people at home to tell them they're at risk of a computer security threat. The scammers tell their victims they're providing free security checks and add authenticity by claiming to represent legitimate companies and using telephone directories to refer to their victims by name. Once they've tricked their victims into believing they've a problem and that the caller can help, the scammers are believed to run through a range of deception techniques designed to steal money," explains Microsoft.

Microsoft's advice:

  • 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
  • Don't 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 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 strong password and change it regularly
  • Make sure firewall is turned on and that antivirus software is installed and up to date
  • Contact their bank and credit card companies.

[source: Microsoft Press]