You did what?!? I was thinking as an elderly family member admitted to doing something I\u2019d warned against long ago. Then I asked, \u201cDo you really think Microsoft cares enough about you to personally call you out of the blue because it detected malware on your PC?\u201dShe had admitted to allowing \u201cMicrosoft\u2019s tech support specialist\u201d remote access into her computer to fix the \u201cmalware\u201d problem even though none of her anti-malware or anti-virus programs had popped up with a \u201cmalware detected\u201d warning. Once Mr. Tech Support had access to her PC, he was able to show her all sorts of \u201cscary\u201d issues, including how an IP from China was allegedly accessing her computer at that very moment. Thankfully, though, she called me \u2014 the 24\/7 free tech support person in the family \u2014 before handing over her credit card details to the fake Microsoft support tech who insisted on needing her payment before fixing her computer.That type of tech support scam, a social engineering attack, is older than the hills, but apparently it still works. In fact, Microsoft recently warned that tech support scams are \u201cstill a growing global problem.\u201dMicrosoft said\u00a0it received \u201c153,000 reports from customers who encountered or fell victim to tech support scams\u201d from 183 counties in 2017. That is up 24 percent from the number of tech support scams reported to Microsoft in 2016.Not all of those scams were cold calls from fake tech support; some started at random websites that had a popup warning about detecting fake threats or fake error message popups. Other social engineering attacks started in email campaigns where the user would click on a URL or open a malicious attachment; once malware is on a computer, it can make system changes or flash fake error messages with a number to call to fix the problem.15% of victims admit to losing money in the scamScammers continue to resort to these tactics because they work so well to scare the pants off non-tech-savvy users. Of the 153,000 tech support scams reported to Microsoft, 15 percent of victims admitted to losing money in the scam. While most paid between $200 and $400 for the fake problems to be \u201cfixed,\u201d one scammer managed to drain the bank account of a user in the Netherlands. That poor person lost \u20ac89,000, which is about $108,838.54.For anyone wondering how a scammer managed to empty the victim\u2019s bank account, Oregon\u2019s FBI explained that some victims of tech support scammers first received a notification about a refund after overpaying for a previous tech support incident.\u201cThe criminal tells the victim that he can get the money refunded if she gives him remote access to her computer while she logs into her bank account. Now he has access to her bank account, and he can make it appear as if a refund has occurred just by moving her own money between savings and checking,\u201d the organization said.Another \u201cnew\u201d tech support scam involves thugs re-contacting their victims but pretending to be law enforcement or another government agency that wants to help them recover the money the victim lost to the scammer. They are happy to help \u2014 after the victim gives them money to defray the cost of the investigation.Lastly, the FBI warned about the fake tech support trend of thugs posing as collection agencies and threatening legal action because the victim supposedly didn\u2019t pay for previous tech support services.Last month, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported having received 11,000 complaints about tech support fraud in 2017. Altogether, the victims claimed losses of near $15 million, which was up 86 percent from 2016.Microsoft suggested \u201ccustomer education is key\u201d to reducing the number of successful tech support scams. It also hyped Windows 10 S as being able to prevent most attacks, as it only runs apps from the Microsoft Store, although tech support scams also target other operating systems such as macOS, iOS and Android.While you likely know all about how to stay safe, you might remind the less tech-savvy folks in your life that vendors are not going to make unsolicited calls to fix a device. That might save you from getting a call during which the person admits to being scammed, as the old saying is still true: There is no patch for human stupidity.