More tech support scams targeting Singapore consumers: Microsoft

rise in online scams.

Police received twice as many reports of such ruses last year amid a Covid-19 fuelled rise in online scams. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – More people here have been targeted by scammers claiming to help them with technical support issues, with the police receiving twice as many reports of such ruses last year amid a Covid-19-fuelled rise in online scams.

This is according to findings from a new study released on Friday (Sept 17) by American software giant Microsoft.

The study showed that 62 per cent of people here had an encounter with a tech support scam, up from 58 per cent when a similar study was last done in 2018.

This year’s finding is also slightly higher than the global average of 59 per cent.

Of the people here who encountered a tech support scam, nearly half – or 49 per cent –  ignored it this year, up from 44 per cent in 2018.

In such scams, crooks often pretend to be from reputable companies and lie to victims that their electronic devices have been infected by a virus or have security or network problems that the scammer can fix.

The scammers communicate the lies by making cold phone calls, sending unsolicited e-mails, inserting pop-up online advertisements in websites, and redirecting people to other websites with fake information.

They also use tricks to scare victims into thinking there is something wrong with their devices, such as playing loud siren sounds in pop up messages or running commands that show a string of data and claiming that they found many viruses on the victim’s computer.

“It’s about using psychological tactics to put people in a mode where they don’t think rationally,” said Ms Mary Jo Schrade, the assistant general counsel and regional lead for Microsoft’s digital crimes unit in Asia.

Microsoft had commissioned market research firm YouGov to poll about 1,000 people – 18 and above – here in May on such scams. People in fifteen other countries were also polled, including in the United States, Britain, India and Japan.

The survey found that 34 per cent of respondents here got an unsolicited tech support scam call in the 12 months to May, almost double the figure from 2018.

However, respondents were also found to be guarded against the scams.

For instance, 91 per cent said that it was very or somewhat unlikely a company would contact them through an unsolicited call, pop-up window, text message, ad or e-mail. This is higher than 2018’s 84 per cent.

The study also showed that the proportion of those who continued to interact with scammers this year was 14 per cent, similar to 2018’s 15 per cent.

The proportion of people who lost money from tech support scams was 5 per cent this year, also similar to 2018’s 4 per cent. The average amount lost this year was $114. 

Those aged 24 to 53 – the millennials and Gen X – were also found to be more likely to continue interacting with scammers, such as by  contacting the crooks, than people from other age groups.

Microsoft believes this could be  partly due  to their being more engaged in online activities, including risky ones such as  visiting torrent sites that are often used for downloading pirated content.

People in this age range were also found to be not as confident in their computer literacy skills as the younger people polled, the company added.

The Microsoft findings coincide to an extent with police data.

Last year, 506 cases involving tech support scams were reported to the police, more than double of 2019’s 249 cases.

The amount cheated from victims last year was about $22.3 million, up 59 per cent from $14 million in 2019.

The largest amount cheated in a reported tech support scam last year was $1.1 million.

The police had said in February that there was a significant increase in online scams as Singaporeans carried out more online transactions due to Covid-19.

Microsoft said on Friday that scammers likely took advantage of people’s fears and insecurities during the pandemic, such as concerns over jobs, food supplies and immunisation matters.

Some scammers created fake documents leveraging  these fears, such as updates on job issues, and sent them to victims in e-mails or through links.

Once victims opened such documents, malware hidden in them would also be downloaded and could, among other things, make pop-ups appear to trick victims into contacting scammers to “fix” fake tech issues, or even steal victims’ personal information.

Microsoft added that it is crucial for people to do checks on their devices after encountering a tech support scam.

This is because some scammers install malware on computers that allows them to maintain remote access to people’s devices long after victims believe their scam encounter is over.

Consumers can protect themselves by taking steps such as being wary of any pop-up messages on their devices and not call any listed numbers or click on any links in the pop-ups they get.

They should download software only from official sources, and beware of downloading software from third-party sites.

And if a company asks for payment in cryptocurrencies or gift cards to resolve a presumed tech issue, it might just be a scam since legitimate companies do not do this.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Medieval 'leechbook' could be latest treatment to beat superbugs

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Could novel vaccines or even a medieval recipe for eye balm provide new ways to defeat the teeming armies of antibiotic-resistant superbugs? There ... Read more »

Sorry Apple fans: The notch is here to stay

Though I’ve dabbled with macOS and iOS here and there, I’m partial to Windows and Android. I like choices, and I like flexibility. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned ... Read more »

The EPA wants to regulate hazardous 'forever chemicals,' which are found in items like pizza boxes, nonstick pans, and cleaning products

Erin McDowell/Insider Forever chemicals can't break down and linger in the soil, water, and air. Many household items contain forever chemicals, including nonstick cookware and cleaning products. EPA Administrator Michael ... Read more »

I Crashed My Bike To Test Apple Watch Fall Detection So You Don't Have To

One of the big new features that came to the Apple Watch with Watch OS8 is the addition of fall detection during certain workout types, including cycling workouts. I’ve written ... Read more »

Dbrand reveals new PS5 Darkplates days after pulling the originals

Dbrand has revealed a brand-new design for its PS5 Darkplates just days after yanking the originals from sale. © Image: Dbrand Dbrand’s new Darkplates. If you weren’t familiar with the ... Read more »

The UNIQLO x Animal Crossing Drop Hits Australia Next Month

Can’t get enough Animal Crossing in your life? UNIQLO’s new shirts might be just what you need. The retailer announced Tuesday morning that their first Animal Crossing: New Horizons collection — a fair while ... Read more »

Apple unveils new computer chips amid shortage

Apple has unveiled its M1Pro and M1Max chips used to power new MacBook Pro laptop computers. Apple says the M1 Max chip, with 57 billion transistors is the most powerful ... Read more »

Walmart just leaked its Black Friday deals early — here's what you need to know

Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability ... Read more »

‘I wrote better pleadings in law school': Trump lawsuit likely to be rejected by courts, experts say

(Getty Images) The courts are likely to reject the lawsuit former President Donald Trump filed on Monday in hopes of stopping the House of Representatives’ investigation into the 6 January ... Read more »

Shop The Trend: Over-The-Knee Boots That Don't Look Cheap

If you subscribe to the Nancy Sinatra view that boots are made for walking, then we’ve got good news for you. It’s boot season! While boots come in a variety ... Read more »

Best phones in SA - latest arrivals

Creating the best phones in the world has become as much art as it is science and engineering.  © Provided by TechRadar The OnePlus 9 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro and ... Read more »

Apple Music Voice Plan: everything we know (and what we don't)

Apple kicked off its Apple Unleashed Event coverage by letting the world know that a new Apple Music plan was coming – the Voice Plan. Half the price of the ... Read more »

Apple October event: 5 things you might have missed at Unleashed

Apple’s October event was all about computing with a decent amount of audio thrown in for good measure. While the reveals of the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros took ... Read more »

Walmart Black Friday deals are live: shop early sales on TV, toys, laptops and more

Black Friday deals are live at Walmart, and yes, you heard that right! The retailer is kicking off the Black Friday 2021 shopping season with early deals that you can ... Read more »

RICHARD KAY: The BBC should be royally afraid of Earl Spencer in dock

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo For 25 years the BBC’s most senior staff concealed the truth that Princess Diana was tricked into giving her explosive 1995 Panorama interview. Lies ... Read more »

Best online learning platforms of 2021

The best online learning platforms make it simple and easy for educators and trainers to manage course materials online. The best online learning platforms Click the links below to go ... Read more »

GameStop PS5 restock in-store event time on Friday – all locations with stock listed

The next GameStop PS5 restock in-store event in the US will happen in seven cities on Friday, October 22, and if you follow our PS5 and Twitter tracker Matt Swider ... Read more »

Microsoft warned Bill Gates over 'inappropriate' emails to female staffer in 2008, report says

Microsoft executives warned Bill Gates to stop sending flirtatious emails to a female employee in 2008 but dropped the matter after he told them he would stop, The Wall Street ... Read more »

MasterChef at Home: Nick Riewoldt's Dippy Eggs Will Amp up Your Dessert Game

Celebrity MasterChef is ticking along nicely with all kinds of sweet feeds popping up on our screens each week. And lucky for you, we’re following the season closely, sharing any ... Read more »

IT firms cautious about ending work-from-home under 'Living with COVID-19'

Seen above is a night scene of Pangyo Techno Valley at around 9 pm, July 12. Korea Times photo by Lee Hae-rin By Kim Bo-eun With the government preparing to ... Read more »

Can a long-life soup really be good for you? A dietician assesses

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo As more of us buy tinned and long-life soups — sales rose by more than 35 million last year — maybe it’s no ... Read more »

Helmet that zaps brain with infrared light 'could help cure dementia'

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A helmet that zaps your brain with infrared light could help cure dementia, a study has found. Researchers from Durham University have developed ... Read more »

Giant space bubble reveals reverse shockwaves from a catastrophic star explosion

© Provided by Space Supernova remnant G344.7-0.1, located 19,600 light years from Earth, is the result of a white dwarf stellar explosion that occurred between 3,000 and 6,000 years ago. ... Read more »

Roger Chaffee: Engineer, aviator and Apollo 1 astronaut

© Provided by Space Roger Chaffee Since childhood, Roger Chaffee dreamt of becoming an astronaut and, when he was selected to be in NASA’s third group of astronauts, that goal ... Read more »

Microsoft Outlook extension finally comes to Google Chrome

Microsoft is making it even easier to access your email in Outlook from Google’s browser with the release of its new Chrome extension. As reported by Windows Central and first ... Read more »

The new MacBook Pro is everything you missed about Apple's best laptop

The rumors leading up to the latest Apple event 2021 offered a ton of hype. Word on the street suggested we were about to get a new MacBook Pro that ... Read more »

macOS Monterey will have the old Safari tab design

Apple debuted a controversial new Safari tab design this summer at WWDC 2021, and since then, it has tweaked that look and even let you turn off many of the ... Read more »

Video Games Are Now More Popular In Australia Than Free-To-Air TV

If it wasn’t already clear from the studies of years past, Australians love video games. That’s only been further affirmed by Bond University’s regular Digital Australia report, which has found ... Read more »

Apple's rumored Beats Fit Pro earbuds could have ear-fitting wingtips

Apple has just announced the next generation of AirPods, but if you’ve been waiting for new Beats earbuds, you may also have something to look forward to there. A report ... Read more »

Colin Powell, who died on Monday from COVID-19, had a blood-cell cancer that likely weakened his immune system

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts Colin Powell, former US secretary of state, died on Monday from COVID-19 complications. Powell was vaccinated but was ... Read more »

A piece of cloth to clean your Apple devices will cost you $19

If you were ever concerned about safely cleaning your Apple products, now you can use an official $19 piece of cloth made by Apple to do so. Apple released this ... Read more »

Apple's website indicates macOS Monterey will launch without Universal Control

Universal Control, Apple’s upcoming feature that lets you control multiple devices with the same mouse and keyboard, will probably not be launching at the same time as macOS Monterey. While ... Read more »

Want a fully specced-out MacBook Pro? You'll have to pay more than $6,000

© Image: Apple Apple’s most expensive laptop is, well, expensive. Apple announced new M1-equipped MacBook Pros on Monday, and they look like very good upgrades, with powerful chips, adaptive refresh ... Read more »

Call for armchair astronomers to help search for new planets

A call has been made for armchair astronomers to help in a search for extrasolar planets. The online citizen project is enlisting the help of the public to examine five ... Read more »

Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz Mourn the Death of Their Dog Frankie: 'My Heart Is Shattered'

Brooklyn Beckham Brooklyn Beckham/instagram Brooklyn Beckham Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz are mourning the death of their beloved dog, Frankie. The couple, who got engaged last year, announced the sad ... Read more »

Regulators say GameStop rally ‘raises questions of market efficiency'

On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission published an official staff report on the GameStop rally earlier this year, calling for more scrutiny of both short-seller activity and broker-dealers like ... Read more »

PLACES+FACES teams with Xbox for limited controller and apparel

© Provided by Windows Central Tees, hoodies, and a custom Xbox controller from the UK label. What you need to know PLACES+FACES has teased an upcoming Xbox-themed capsule collection, including ... Read more »

List of Xbox Series X, Series S games with 120 FPS

© Provided by Windows Central Smoother, faster, cleaner. With a new generation of consoles comes new hardware capabilities. One of the exciting new features of the Xbox Series X and ... Read more »

Alibaba launches fast-fashion shopping site allyLikes for overseas shoppers, taking on shooting star Shein

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding recently launched fast-fashion e-tailer allyLikes targeting the North American and European markets, in an attempt to rival Chinese shopping site Shein, which has taken ... Read more »

MS drug does NOT improve condition of hospitalized COVID-19 patients

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A multiple sclerosis drug combined with the antiviral remdesivir did not improve the conditions of COVID-19 patients, a new federal study reveals. The ... Read more »