Microsoft has warned partners to beware of internet fraudsters attempting to pass themselves off as legitimate channel firms to defraud customers.
The software giant claims criminals posing as partners or Microsoft security engineers are contacting end users to offer them free security checks.
In order to carry out these checks, end users are often asked to let the caller access their computer remotely, download unauthorised software, and hand over their credit card details.
The vendor recently surveyed 7,000 end users from the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada to ascertain how widespread the problem is.
According to its findings, 15 per cent of respondents have received such calls. Out of those, 22 per cent admitted to following the caller's instructions.
In nearly 80 per cent of cases, this led to respondents suffering some sort of financial loss, with 17 per cent having money withdrawn from their accounts and 19 per cent becoming victims of identity theft.
The survey also revealed that the scam causes damage to the victim's computer totalling $1,730 on average.
Stuart Aston, chief security advisor at Microsoft UK, said that these kind of scams are becoming more common as security software grows increasingly sophisticated.
"Cyber criminals are resorting to deception tactics to trick people into revealing important details or gaining access to their computers, [and] many scammers even claim to be from legitimate companies or partners," explained Aston.
"We would like to remind users of Microsoft software that the company does not keep track [or] directly contact consumers for any reason whatsoever."
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