More than half of millennials in the UK have lost money to technology support scams, a new survey by Microsoft has revealed.
The results for those aged between 24 and 37 are a huge jump on 2016, when just one-in-five had suffered a financial impact from fraudsters who offered to help people with non-existent computer issues.
The rise is being blamed on more young people visiting unscrupulous websites to download free music and films, where they click on harmful pop-up adverts or are automatically redirected to fraudulent sites.
Microsoft’s research revealed that despite a seven percentage point fall in the total number of UK consumers being affected by tech support scams (from 69% to 62%), younger people were continuing to fall victim. It found that 56% of millennials lost money, compared with 15% of Gen Z (aged 18 to 23), 17% of Gen X (38-53), and just 11% of Boomers (54 and over).
Being hit by scams also caused stress and loss of time as victims sought professional help to get their devices repaired.
Among those surveyed, 13% of millennials admitted to using torrent sites to download media files such as movies. This compared with just 2% of Boomers and 4% of Gen X. Thirty-one percent of millennials said they shared their email address online in exchange for content, compared with 15% of Gen X and just 9% of Boomers.
Compacting the problem, just 43% of millennials said they downloaded the latest updates for their PC and 34% changed their password regularly, while 51% and 35% of Boomers said the same.
While a high number of Gen Z reported using torrent sites (15%) and 27% said they shared their email address in exchange for content, it is believed that their relative inexperience with the internet compared with millennials means they are more careful online. Microsoft’s research revealed that millennials said they had the highest computer expertise out of all the age groups.
The survey also found that men were more likely to lose money to scams than women – 62% versus 38%.
Respondents said government regulators in the UK had the greatest responsibility to protect consumers.
Microsoft’s study involved 16,048 people in 16 countries worldwide. The UK was the seventh safest nation in terms of tech support scams, with New Zealand the riskiest. Japan topped the table.