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Spotting a remote access scam


Scammers usually pose as someone from a reputable organisation to gain access to your private data. These are the signs to look out for.

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With more of us working remotely, scam artists are constantly developing new tactics to access your computer and hijack critical information such as your bank account and credit card details. Remote access scams are one of the techniques criminals use to defraud online customers.

What is a remote access scam?

Scammers usually start with a telephone call or an email claiming to be from a reputable organisation that you trust, such as a bank, telecommunications company, energy provider, or government agency. The fraudster will trick you into allowing them to access your computer by downloading remote desktop software and compromising your private data.

Spot the warning signs

There are several types of remote access scams, but they follow a similar pattern. These are some red flags to be aware of:

  • A professional-sounding individual contacts you out of the blue, saying they need your assistance to fix your NBN connection or other computer issues
  • The caller claims that you have been overcharged for a product, and they will refund your bank account
  • The caller claims to have mistakenly credited your account with funds that must be repaid
  • The caller requests that you download TeamViewer, Go-To-Meeting, or some similar remote desktop software so they can access your computer to solve the problem. The caller will be persistent and may become abusive if you do not comply.

Protect yourself

  • Never give anyone remote access to your computer unless you are the one initiating the call. A legitimate technical representative will never cold-call you to offer you refunds by remote access.
  • Beware of pop-ups on your computer that say something needs to be fixed by calling a certain number
  • Do not open suspicious texts or click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails -- delete them
  • Keep your computer security software up to date
  • Purchase items only on reputable sites that you trust
  • Turn on two-factor authentication for extra security
  • Never disclose your login details, PINs, or passcodes to anyone. A reputable organisation or financial institution is vigilant when interacting with you and will never ask you for your password.
  • Confirm who is on the other end of the line. If you receive a call from an individual claiming to represent a well-known company or government institution who asks you for personal details, get their name and tell them you will call them back. If they are legitimate, you can find them by checking the contact details for the organisation on their official website (don’t use contact details they give you).

By taking reasonable precautions, you can protect yourself from falling victim to remote access scams. If you are the target of a remote access scam, or any other type of scam, you can report the incident to the Scamwatch. If you feel your accounts may have been compromised as a result of a scam or fraud, please contact us immediately on 13 19 87.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication.

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