Mumbai: India recorded the most considerable increase, with almost a third losing money through a tech support scam, while globally, the number of people losing money remained consistent, according to Microsoft’s “Global Tech Support Scam Research” released this month. 

According to the survey, 31 percent of the Indians lost more money in 2021 than 14 percent in 2018.  

Comparatively, the global average stands at 7 percent in 2021 compared to 6 percent in 2018. 

India is followed by the US and Mexico, and Australia, where 10 percent and 9 percent of the people respectively lost money through a tech support scam. 

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India saw significant increases in phone scams, with 51 percent of the Indians receiving Pop-up window or ad in 2021, 48 percent of them receiving redirect to a website in 2021, 42 percent of Indians receiving unsolicited email 2021, while 31 percent of them receiving unsolicited telephone call 2021 compared to 23 percent in 2018. 

The survey revealed that 47 percent of the Indians are very or somewhat likely to trust unsolicited contact in 2021 than 32 percent in 2018. 

The web-based survey of 16,254 adults (18+) internet users was conducted in 16 countries worldwide (1,000 per country) between May 6-17, 2021. Sample within each country weighted to align with internet user population on age, gender, and region.

Global trend:

• Continuing the trend from 2018, fewer consumers were exposed to scams: Globally, the number of interactions reported fell by 5-points to 59 percent, primarily driven by a reduction in scams involving pop-up ads or windows (37 percent vs. 45 percent in 2018) and redirects to websites (30 percent vs. 37 percent). 

• However, those exposed were more likely to have lost money: Despite a subsequent reduction in consumers continuing with a scam (16 percent vs. 19 percent), the number of people directly losing money increased slightly from 6 percent to 7 percent in 2021. On a positive note, more of those who lost money could recover some, and fewer people spent time or money on checking and repairing a computer. 

• Sensitive financial information continues to be at risk: While scammers most commonly asked consumers to download software or go to a website (with 30 percent reporting computer problems), the proportion of consumers asked for their SSN increased since 2018, and 16 percent were asked to their banking website. Not surprising, there was an increase in the number of consumers reporting fraudulent use of credit/debit or store cards or fraudulent use of online stores, accounting for the increase in money lost. 

• Consumers are warier of scam risk: Consumers have grown more skeptical of unsolicited contact, with 79 percent thinking it unlikely that a reputable company would contact them in this way (+5 since 2018), and 86 percent unlikely to trust it (+3). 

• Younger consumers and males continue to be most at risk: As in 2018, it is Gen Z, Millennials, and Males who were hardest hit and most likely to have lost money; likely due to younger generations being more ‘online’ and engaging in more risky activities. Interestingly, confidence in computer usage and the internet has decreased across all ages, opening up the potential for further education. 

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