Microsoft survey reveals emerging Internet scams conducted over phones

A recent Microsoft survey reveals that scammers are turning to traditional telephone landlines for baiting their victims to hand over money, instead of relying solely on phishing emails or fake advertisements on websites. The survey was commissioned by Microsoft as part of their Trustworthy Computing initiative. The results were gathered over the course of last April.

According to the press release, scammers pose as computer security experts and warn people via their home phones of a security threat on their computers. The victims' numbers and names are randomly selected via telephone directories. The scammers, posing as representatives of legitimate companies, claim to offer free security checks. Once the victim consents, they are unknowingly directed to typical scamware that throws up fake threats on a user's computer, and demands payment for removal. Some victims have unknowingly installed remote access software for the scammers' use.

Microsoft surveyed 7000 computer users in the UK, Ireland, US, and Canada. The results were as follows:

  • 15% of those users report receiving a phone call as the one mentioned above.
  • 22% of those users, or 3% of the surveyed 7000 users, followed the instructions given by the scammers.
  • Of those users that were deceived, 79% of these users have had money taken from them. In addition, 19% of them reported stolen passwords, and 17% of those users were victims of identity fraud.
  • The average cost to the affected victims was $875 per victim.
  • The average cost to undo the damage done by the scammers was $1730.

Unlike Internet security suites, nothing can protect consumers in realtime from phishing schemes conducted over phone lines. Thus, Microsoft stresses the importance of educating consumers of being wary of suspicious communications - phone calls, emails, ads, messages - that claim to fix a security problem. Microsoft also warns users to never turn over personal information to unidentified individuals, especially credit card numbers. And finally, good security practices on computers are a must - including regular patches and updated security software.

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18 Comments

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I've had two calls. The first moron couldn't string a sentence together- so I hung up. The second was more insistent, so I went along with his game. When I asked "Can you help me with my shed roof?" he didn't think anything was wrong, so after 20 mins of me asking where the "r" key is on my keyboard did I get bored- so I screamed like a banshee down the phone then hung up.

I've heard it happen to LOADS of people in the UK, in our area I think I must have heard 30-40 people have been targeted, it mainly goes on the lines of " Hello, I'm calling from Microsoft, we had an alert to say you had a virus on your computer and we are giving you a call to try and help you solve it for free" after that it's normally some remote connection into the computer and they "fix" the virus but then say on the lines of "We've fixed the virus but we see your hard drive is failing, if you pay us £49.99 on a credit card we can fix it for you over the phone"
I've not personally had a call - yet.

i made a post about this days ago in the security forum >.> after it happened to me lol go read it its points how to notice the obvious fake (btw i did not fall for this obvious scam lol)

Yeah this has been happening in Australia too for a while and a lot of peoples fell for it. It is a common knowledge after a lot of publicity but we still hear some poor idiot falling for it.

They tried to call me saying that there was a virus on my PC and asked for RDP access. I kept insisting that my IP Address was 192.168.1.2 and that idiot kept trying to connect....Was some great fun until he realised that I knew what I was doing and he ****ed himself off! ROFL.

they tried the same with me. you have a virus on your computer microsoft bull etc. kept them on the phone for 2hours before they gave up. whats a virus?

Flawed said,
Oh no, not more commissioned surveys by Microsoft. The ridiculous IDC one was bad enough.

Raising awareness about scams that don't even happen on the computer. How horrible of Microsoft.

Flawed said,
Oh no, not more commissioned surveys by Microsoft. The ridiculous IDC one was bad enough.


So what is software is Microsoft selling that will keep me safe from IRL scammers? Because if they are I would gladly buy it so Microsoft would have to deal with.

Emerging ????
This has been going on since last year, I get AT LEAST one call per week from "Microsoft" (an Indian pretending to be MS), I either tell them to F*** off, or if I feel in the mood keep them busy for ages pretending to run through the process with them right up to the moment they want my card details or remote access to my PC

Yup. Got one of these chumps on the phone one day and played with them for nearly an hour before he hung up on me. "You want me to click on internet mixed-tortoise? What's that? The blue e? But my keyboard is black. Ohhhh, on my screen. Well why didn't you say so!" It's the kind of fun you just can't buy.

Tim Dawg said,
Yup. Got one of these chumps on the phone one day and played with them for nearly an hour before he hung up on me. "You want me to click on internet mixed-tortoise? What's that? The blue e? But my keyboard is black. Ohhhh, on my screen. Well why didn't you say so!" It's the kind of fun you just can't buy.

ROFL That would be too much fun.

So in short: a lot of people fell for this.
We all need to install anti-scammer softwares on our phones.

FMH said,
So in short: a lot of people fell for this.
We all need to install anti-scammer softwares on our phones.

MSSEP, Microsoft Secuirty Essentials Phone Edtn... I can see the desktop now warning, your phone may be unprotected. Update definitions now. Anyway, I guess every time the guy from the dairy (corner store? for the Americans) rang it would hang up. it would Think he was a scammer or something

FMH said,
So in short: a lot of people fell for this.
We all need to install anti-scammer softwares on our phones.

everyone has an anti scammer protection, called BRAIN .. if you (not you, but you get the idea) are dumb enough to fall for something like this.. its your problem and your fault, dont blame the company for something thats entirely your fault ... because being stupid is people's problem, not the company's