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Remote Access Scams Double

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By Published On: June 6, 20240 Comments

The ACCC has issued a warning to consumers and companies to stay vigilant as remote access scams have doubled in volume recently.

The ACCC has warned Australians to beware of anyone instructing them to download software or an app over the phone following a recent rise in reported losses to remote access scams.

According to Scamwatch, remote access scams try to convince you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem. The scammer will phone you and pretend to be a staff member from a telecommunications company, or technical support for a service provider.

The caller will request remote access to your computer to ‘find out what the problem is’.

Companies like NBN and Telstra have reportedly been impersonated in these cases.

In the first quarter of 2024, reported losses to remote access scams increased by 52 percent compared to the previous quarter. 

Australians reported losing $15.5 million to these scammers in 2023, with the average loss per victim increasing by 57 percent to $17,943 in the first quarter of 2024.

“We are very concerned scammers are draining entire bank accounts, with average losses to remote access scams now in the tens of thousands,” ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said.

“Financial criminals use sophisticated emails, web-based pop-up messages and phone calls to impersonate well-known companies such as Microsoft to deceive people into thinking there is a problem with their account, computer or phone that needs fixing.”

“The scammer will sound professional and offer to help resolve the problem, by instructing the victim to download well-known screen sharing software such as AnyDesk, Zoho or Teamviewer. Unfortunately, by doing so, the scammer can gain access to their bank accounts,” Ms Lowe said.

“Never download software or apps if directed to by someone over the phone and never share banking information, passwords or two-factor identification codes.”

The National Anti-Scam Centre’s efforts to disrupt remote access scams include notifying remote desktop application software companies of reports of scam activity using their products. It has also contacted the companies being impersonated so they can alert their customers.

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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