The 2021 Global Tech Support Scam Research report looks at tech support scams and their impact on consumers.
Conducted by Microsoft, the new findings have revealed Australians are among those most likely to fall victim to tech support fraud, second only to India in Asia-Pacific, with 24 per cent of those who engaged with cyber criminals reporting that they had unauthorised money transfers from their bank accounts after engaging with the scammers.
Globally, consumers reported a more drastic drop from 64 per cent in 2018 to 59 per cent in 2021. Of Australians who continued with a scam interaction in 2021 (19 per cent), about one in 10 of them (9 per cent) lost money as a result – a three-point increase from 2018 (6 per cent).
This is slightly higher than the global average, where 17 per cent of those surveyed continued with a scam and 7 per cent lost money as a result.
Australian Millennials (aged 24-37) and Gen Xers (aged 38-53) were the most susceptible to such scams, where 31 per cent and 30 per cent respectively continued with a scam; the likelihood of Gen Zers (aged 18-23) continuing with such a scam was significantly lower at 16 per cent.
In contrast, globally, Gen Zers and Millennials were found to have continued interactions most when targeted with scams – 23 per cent for both age groups. Males in Australia were also more likely to engage with such scams (61 per cent), which was significantly higher than the global average of 20 per cent.
Mary Jo Schrade, assistant general counsel, regional lead, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit Asia, revealed that the survey findings Australians are experiencing higher-than-average tech support scam encounters, when compared globally.
"Consumers need to understand how these scammers work to better enable them to protect themselves from scams,” Schrade said.
"Tactics used by fraudsters to victimise users online have evolved over time, from pure cold calling to more sophisticated ploys, such as fake 'pop-ups' displayed on people’s computers.
"We are committed to online safety and hope these survey findings will help better educate people so they can avoid becoming victims of these scams.”
Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints globally from people who have been the victim of a tech support scam; this is down from 13,000 reports in an average month in prior years.
In Australia, one in three Millennials were most likely to continue with a scam (31 per cent), followed by Gen Xers (30 per cent).
Males (61 per cent) in Australia were also most likely to have continued with such scams in 2021 as compared with females surveyed (39 per cent).
Gen Zers targeted in Australia were least likely to continue interacting with scammers (16 per cent) when compared with all of the other age groups. This is despite them reporting that they engage in riskier online activities, such as using bit torrent sites (19 per cent) and downloading music or video content (33 per cent); such risky online behaviour was also seen among Millennials and Gen Xers, where 18 per cent and 13 per cent respectively were likely to use bit torrent sites, and 33 per cent and 25 per cent of them downloaded music or video content online.
Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans issues, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! 7 and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. She started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.