A Microsoft survey of 16 nationalities has found that New Zealanders were the most likely to experience tech support scams, with kiwi millennials and young men reported as the most susceptible.
The 2018 Global Tech Support Scam Research was carried out by research and consulting company TRG. It found that of the countries surveyed, New Zealand had the highest level of exposure to tech support scams followed by Mexico, South Africa, Australia and India, with Japan’s citizens taking the top spot of those least susceptible.
The survey also revealed interesting statistics about Kiwi men, reporting they are significantly more likely to experience financial loss from tech support scams than women – 63% of Kiwi men versus 35% of Kiwi women.
Millennials are also highly susceptible to a variety of scams with Generation Z and young men having the highest exposure to tech support scams, while Baby Boomers show the highest levels of unsolicited calls.
The report showed that Kiwi Millennials are the most likely age group to lose money, with 64% of them engaging with tech support scams resulting financial loss, compared with just 11% of Generation Xers.
“Because computer use is skewed towards younger generations and males, who are also more likely to engage in riskier behaviours such as visiting torrent download sites, they are more likely to encounter scams,” says Microsoft New Zealand’s National Technology Officer, Russell Craig.
“Greater exposure plus greater confidence using computers makes under 40s and men more susceptible to clever scammers.”
Internationally, survey respondents said responsibility for addressing tech support scams rests mostly with consumer protection agencies, followed by law enforcement agencies and regulators.
Microsoft itself is highly associated with tech scams as its Windows operating system is the most popular choice for most of the world’s computer tech. Because of this, scammers frequently pretend to be representatives of the company who have found a “problem” with a user’s computer, which they have to pay for to have fixed.
To combat the issue, Netsafe’s Chief Executive Martin Cocker says its focus is educating New Zealanders on how to stay safe online, and that includes how to protect yourself against scams, “We work closely with the Government and other agencies to help Kiwis avoid harm from unscrupulous activities and advise them of the latest scams, as we all have a role to play in keeping the web safe.”