DES MOINES — Many Iowans have answered their phones to hear a distant caller claiming to be with Microsoft and offering to “fix” our computers. A new survey finds the extent to which those tech support scams are reaching us — and ripping some of us off.
Mary Jo Schrade, with the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, says three in five of us have received those calls, and one in six lost money on them.
Schrade says, “Tech scammers are targeting everyone, even the most active technology users like Millennials and Gen Z.” The con artists are using sophisticated schemes that have evolved from cold calls to more of them using fake pop-up ads and fraudulent websites.
“Scammers are fast-moving and innovative,” Schrade says, “so when someone encounters a pop-up that asks them to call a phone number or click on a link to resolve an issue, it’s important to be wary and use caution.”
Microsoft gets 6,500 complaints every month from people reporting they were victims of a tech support scam in which scammers use the company’s name to lure victims into paying for unnecessary or harmful “services.” Many thousands more are going unreported.
“Report the scam on the Microsoft website,” she says. “The more reports we receive, the better we get at fighting these scammers. Remember, we will never proactively contact you asking for your financial or personal information.”
While you might think young people would be more tech savvy, the survey found one out of ten Millennials and one out of ten Gen Zers who encountered a scam fell for it — and lost money.