According to recent reports, it seems Canadians are increasingly vulnerable when it comes to scams.
Miscosoft says that every year, more than 2.8 million Canadians receive a Microsoft support tech scam call, and of those people, more than 200,000 lose money.
The software giant says the losses total about $347 million each year and that tech scam phone calls are the biggest in the country.
Gregg Keizer, a reporter who writes about Microsoft for digital magazine, Computerworld, explains that the people making the phone calls use aggressive tactis that are becoming more common with this type of scam.
“They are using their entire bag of dark arts to try and trick people and scare people into giving them money,” Keizer explains. He also says he’s heard of cases where the scammer used vulgar language when their tech services were rejected or the person refused to give money.
Other people have reported receiving dozens of calls in a day in an attempt to annoy them into giving in. Microsoft says that on average, Canadians are bilked out of about $347 million a year or about $1,500 per person.
The Microsoft support tech scam is taking place globally. Just last year, the US Federal trade Commission shut down two US-based companies related to these tech scams. During the two years they were in business, the tech scam companies raked in $120 million.
Keizer calls their revenue a drop in the ocean, saying these rip offs have been around for years and no one can stop them.
“The way that these calls go and the fear that these callers rely on, strikes deep,” he says.
“They will very quickly in the call say, ‘We have detected that your computer has been infected with malware, been infected with spyware,’ and then they will launch into an entire litany of what that means, and they are all, of course, very dire.”
He adds that people continue to fall for the scam for two reasons, one being they actually believe their computer is infected and the other reason is out of fear. Many of these people are not tech savvy and really do not know enough about their computer to know if it’s been compromised. From this, stems the fear that all their personal information, including banking information, will be shared with the world. So they accept what sounds like ligament expert help.
“[People] fall for this because they were scared their computer was actually infected, because the scammer was so convincing,” said Keizer.
In most instances, the scammer will infect the computer with a virus or Trojan malware to gather pass codes, but in most cases, these guys are just looking for a quick pay off. They claim to be experts from Microsoft and offer to ‘clean’ the computer for $100, even though there’s nothing wrong with the computer. In more severe cases, some people are tricked into long-term contracts and are left out hundreds of dollars.
Keizer says, “I’m really at wit’s end to figure out what Microsoft can do. It’s part and parcel of the fact that Windows is so popular, which is why these criminals can cold call.
“Call numbers blindly and you have a very good chance of getting someone who answers to say that they own a PC — a Windows PC.”