More than half of millennials in the UK have fallen victim to tech support scams, a survey by Microsoft reveals.
The survey shows that a significant number of people have lost money as part of scams as well as a marked increase over the past two years. In 2016, just one-in-five people aged between 24 and 37 suffered financial losses due to tech support scams.
Microsoft said the increase in victims is due to a rise in people visiting “unscrupulous websites” to download free music and films. Visitors to websites such as these click on harmful pop-up adverts, or are commonly redirected to fraudulent websites.
The study involved 16,048 people across 16 countries worldwide. According to the survey, the UK was the seventh safest nation in terms of tech support scams, with New Zealand the riskiest.
Tech Support Scams
The research conducted by Microsoft shows that despite a 7% fall in the total number of UK consumers being affected by tech support scams – from 69% to 62% – younger people were increasingly falling prey to fraudsters.
56% of millennials lost money after falling victim to tech support scams, which compared to the 15% of Gen Z (aged 18 to 23) paints a concerning picture for a seemingly tech-savvy generation.
Conversely, older generations appear to be more vigilant whilst operating online. Only 17% of web users in Gen X, people aged between 38 and 53, were affected by scams. Similarly, a small number of baby boomers (54 and over) were affected.
These statistics, Microsoft suggests, coincide with a rise in the use of torrent sites among millennials. People downloading audio or video content online are putting themselves at risk.
Among those surveyed, 13% of millennials said they used torrent sites to download media files. Baby Boomers and Gen X people rarely used websites such as these, the survey suggests, with just 2% and 4% respectively.
Nearly one-third (31%) of millennials also admitted to sharing their email address online to access content, which is more than double Gen X web users.
While this generation is using torrent websites more frequently than their parents – or grandparents – the issue is compounded by the fact that less than half (43%) said they regularly update their devices. Similar practices to ensure security are also sub-standard in this generation, with only 34% of people changing their passwords frequently.
More than half of baby boomers update their devices, while 35% say they change their passwords on a regular basis.
Brought up Online
Microsoft suggested that Gen Z web users have a greater awareness of online dangers. While a large number of people aged 18 to 23 use torrent sites (15%), the survey said their “relative inexperience” with the internet compared to older generations makes them more vigilant online. 27% also said they share email addresses to access content, yet they are not affected by scams to such an extent.
“The scammers know how to create an email which will avoid phishing filters. If an organisation such as Hamilton FC can lose around £1 million in a simple vishing attack, we must worry about how susceptible we are in terms of being tricked by these scams.”
Prof Buchanan also suggested we are being let down by a “terrible bad ‘old internet’, and one which provides little in the way of trust.”