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How to spot a remote access scam before it finds you

Affecting thousands, costing millions

Each year remote access scams affect thousands of Australians, costing them millions of dollars in stolen money. In 2023, Aussies made over 8,000 reports of remote access scams to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and more than $15 million* was lost.

What is a remote access scam?

A remote access scam is when a scammer contacts you by phone, email or SMS saying you have a problem with your computer or device which they need to access to fix.

Often they’ll pretend to be from a reputable telco or tech company.

How it works

First the scammer may say something like:

  • your computer or device has a virus or is sending error messages
  • there’s a problem with your internet affecting your computer or device
  • your broadband connection has been hacked.

Then to fix the imaginary problem they may:

  • request remote access to your computer or device
  • try and talk you into buying a dodgy service or software
  • ask for your personal, bank or credit card details.
How it happened to Shay

Out of the blue ING customer Shay* received a phone call from someone stating they were from her telecommunications company and her wifi connection was being compromised.

Panicked Shay then provided remote access to them to install a program on her computer to complete a ‘check’. The telecom company then advised her to leave the computer running while they completed the ‘check’. Shay noticed later that there were suspicious transactions in their ING account that they didn’t make and realised they’ve been scammed.

* Name changed for privacy

5 signs it’s a remote access scam

Every crime has it’s MO, so here are some good clues it’s a remote access scam.

1.  An unknown person from a telco or tech company contacts you out of the blue.

2.  They say your computer or device has a problem to sort out and they need remote access to your device.

3.  They say you need to download software or sign up to a service to fix it.

4.  They ask for your personal, bank or credit card details.

5.  They won’t give up and become abusive if you resist.

Specific things you can do

To help avoid remote access scams you should:

  • Never give an unknown person remote access to your computer.
  • Never give an unknown person your personal information, bank or credit card details.
  • Regularly update your device anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
  • Only buy and download software from a reputable provider.

Better yet: Stop, Reflect & Protect

Whatever the type of scam, always keeping these simple steps top of mind could help prevent you from becoming a scam statistic.

3 steps to spot scams before they find you
  1. Stop. Before sharing details or money, take a breather to assess if you really know or trust who’s asking.
  2. Reflect. Ask yourself: ‘Could this website, message or call be fake?’
  3. Protect. Don’t wait to act if things seem fishy – don’t proceed and if you’re an ING customer and notice unusual activity on your account, call our 24/7 scams line on 1800 052 74.

For our latest security alerts and more ways ING can help to protect you and your money, visit ing.com.au/security

Disclaimer:

*The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2023), https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/research-and-resources/scam-statistics?scamid=18&date=2023

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