Technology in the online space is advancing more quickly than ever before, and if you’re someone who’s not particularly interested in or who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about online services and security it can be confusing. It can be so confusing that scammers are now targeting people with what’s known as “Remote Access Scams”.
What is a remote access scam?
Remote access scammers generally call you claiming to be a part of an internet, telecommunications, or software company in their technical support department. They then attempt to convince you that you have a technical fault, or that you’ve already been attacked by spyware and they’re trying to help, or they need to update your software – or even connect you to the nbn.
The scammer continues to prompt you to download remote access software which they will say allows them to fix the problem for you so you don’t have to deal with this non-existent technical problem yourself. They then may ask you to access your online banking information in order to check that you haven’t already been compromised – and in doing so they gain access to your banking information and are able to transfer money out of your accounts. They may also ask you to pay for software or technical support via credit card over the phone.
These callers can be very convincing, but a hallmark of these scam calls is that they will come unsolicited, the caller will be very persistent, and the call will escalate into threatening or abusive language if you do not comply with their demands.
“Remote Access Scam” refers to the software they ask you to download that allows them access to your computer.
How do scammers get your details?
Scammers can get your phone number from any number of fraudulent sources, even if your number is on a do not call register or is a private number.
Being safe from scams checklist:
Follow these basic rules for being safe from these types of scammers:
- If someone calls you and asks you to pay for something or connect to a service over the phone, hang up.
Do not give out your credit card details, passwords, or bank details to someone that has called you unsolicited. If you are concerned that they may be a legitimate business and actually want the service they called about, or you believe you may owe them money, call the business back on their registered business phone number (not the number the person on the phone gives you), and double check the information. Scammers may try to call you back repeatedly – if this happens, ignore the calls or block them.
- If someone calls you and asks you to download any software onto your computer, hang up.
Do not download any software on direction from someone who has called you on the phone, regardless of where they say they are from. If you are concerned about your computer’s security, seek help from a qualified computer technician. As for step one above, if you are concerned that the person is from a legitimate business, call the business back on their registered business phone number (not the number the person on the phone gives you), and double check the information. Scammers may try to call you back repeatedly – if this happens, ignore the calls or block them.
- Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are up to date.
If you have existing anti-virus and anti-spyware software, make sure it’s up to date with the latest version, and make sure that it’s running scans regularly. If you’re unsure about your anti-virus/anti-spyware software settings, seek help from a reputable and qualified computer technician. There are plenty of high-quality anti-virus and anti-spyware programs that can be purchased or downloaded for free. It pays to do a bit of research to ensure you have an anti-virus and anti-spyware program that is reputable and provides constant updates to ensure you’re protected.
If you’re concerned that you’ve been scammed or have given someone remote access to your computer, or financial institution information, turn your computer off and seek help from a qualified computer technician to clean and update your computer prior to re-connecting it to the internet. Immediately contact your financial institution via some method other than the affected computer and advise them of what has happened.
If you believe you’ve been targeted by a scam, make sure you report them to the ACCC via Scamwatch.