Some 21 per cent of UK computer users have been hit by cold call scammers posing as computer security engineers who try to extort cash from them to fix problems which aren’t there, according to the latest research from Microsoft.
The firm interviewed 7,000 users across several regions including the UK, US and Ireland, and found that such phone scams remain a popular and successful money-making technique.
Of the 15 per cent overall in the survey that said they had received a call, nearly a quarter were tricked into following the scammer’s instructions, with 79 per cent suffering some kind of financial loss.
Typically, the callers pretend to be software engineers warning of a security issue on the victim’s PC. They then promise to provide a free security check, in some cases convincing the user to allow them to remotely access their machine.
Across the countries surveyed, the average amount of money stolen was 543 pounds sterling with the average cost of repairing resulting damage caused to computers topping 1,000 pounds.