New Zealanders are the most targeted in the world when it comes to tech support scams, according to a new study from Microsoft.
More than three-quarters of Kiwis in the study reported having experienced at least one such scam, well above the global average of 62 per cent.
About 21 per cent of those who encountered a tech support scam were fooled into continuing with an interaction, with 6 per cent suffering financial loss.
Russell Craig, Microsoft New Zealand's national technology officer, said the results reinforce that Kiwis need to be extra cautious online.
"These results reinforce the need for all of us to be extra cautious when it comes to giving information to strangers," Craig said.
"If in doubt, hover over a link before clicking to check the URL and remember that Microsoft tech support teams will never contact customers directly."
Kiwis were also far more likely to be exposed to fake pop-up ads and windows posing as notifications from their software provider than other nationalities that participated in the survey.
But the biggest surprise may come in those who were falling victim to tech scams.
While many people believe the tech-naïve older generation are easily fooled when it comes to scammers, it was male millennials who were the most likely to experience financial losses from a scam.
"The common stereotype of scam victims is that they are elderly and less experienced with computers and software, but this is a case of a little knowledge leading to overconfidence," Craig said.
"Because computer use is skewed towards younger generations and males, who are also more likely to engage in riskier behaviours such as visiting torrent download sites, they are more likely to encounter scams. Greater exposure plus greater confidence using computers makes under-40s and men more susceptible to clever scammers."
However, New Zealand's economic losses from tech support scams were on par with the rest of the countries surveyed.
Worldwide, losses from scams have reportedly declined 3 per cent since the previous survey in 2016, dropping to 6 per cent.
Martin Cocker, chief executive of online safety organisation Netsafe, said their core focus was educating New Zealanders on how to stay safe online and protect themselves from scams.
"We work closely with the Government and other agencies to help Kiwis avoid harm from unscrupulous activities and advise them of the latest scams, as we all have a role to play in keeping the web safe," Cocker said.
16,048 adult internet users in 16 countries took part in the survey.