“One of the reasons we’re thrilled to be working with Microsoft is that it’s one thing for law enforcement to give advice for crime prevention, but when Microsoft says they don’t initiate these calls, it’s very powerful,” Shadel says.
But anyone can fall prey to these schemes.
Similar to the 2016 results, Generation Z and Millennials fall prey to tech support scams more often, and also men. They may be more likely to engage in riskier online behavior, such as visiting torrent sites and giving up their email in exchange for downloading videos or images. But because they can be more familiar with technology companies than older generations, it may lead to overconfidence in their web and device expertise.
Each month, Microsoft receives about 11,000 complaints from people across the globe who have been the victim of a tech support scam with fraudsters pretending to be from reputable tech companies, including Microsoft, Dell and Apple.
To help protect consumers from online scams, Windows includes security features and updates with free real-time protection, and the SmartScreen filter built into Microsoft Edge helps protect against malicious pop-ups. In addition, the Bing Ads team took action to block 25 million ads in the tech scam category in 2017 as part of its ad quality work.
Microsoft also fights back through advanced analytics and investigations of thousands of customer complaints received annually, thanks to its Digital Crimes Unit, which identifies key players perpetrating these scams. Collaborating with enforcement agencies globally, they take action to disrupt these fraudulent enterprises and hold them accountable under the law.
For example, Microsoft provided critical information for the May 2017 sweeping enforcement action “Operation Tech Trap” in which the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement partners announced 16 new actions against tech support fraudsters. While the UK National Fraud Investigative Bureau reports the number of instances of consumers reporting tech support scams using the Microsoft brand has dropped from 76 percent to 17 percent after a string of successful joint Microsoft and law enforcement operations.