This year there seems to have been a surge in “remote access”, with known figures of more than 8,000 Aussies losing a total of $4.4 million to Telstra, NBN, Microsoft and even NSW Police impersonators.
Here is what you need to be on the lookout for.
The goal of the scammers is to get access to your computer and steal money or banking information, using legit software like TeamViewer and quite often a legit-sounding story.
“The scammers are becoming more sophisticated. The old trick scammers used to use was to call people and say there was a virus on their computer that needed fixing but, in a new twist, scammers are now telling people they need their help to catch hackers,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
The scammers claim they are tracking the ‘scammers’ or ‘hackers’, and tell you that your computer has been both compromised and being used to send scam messages. With your help, they say, they can use your computer and online banking to trap the (fake) ‘scammer’.
The scammer will then pretend to deposit money into your account. In reality, the scammer just shuffles money between your accounts (for example, from your credit card account to a savings account), which gives the illusion of money being deposited. The money is then sent out of your account as part of the con to ‘catch a scammer’, straight to the scammer’s own bank accounts.
Once the scammer has you on the hook, if you start to doubt the situation, the scammer will become threatening, stating that you will jeopardise the investigation if you refuse to help — and may even face legal consequences.
These types of scam can be pretty full on and quite often become threatening and aggressive if they sense they are ‘losing’ you, or if you are starting to cotton on which is particularly frightening for older people who may not be as tech-savvy.
“It’s vital that people remember they should never, ever, give an unsolicited caller access to your computer, and under no circumstances offer your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone,” Rickard said.
If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer and remote access is requested, it’s a scam 100 per cent of the time. Just hang up.
If you or anyone you know do get scammed, report it to Scamwatch who offer advice and resources to those who have been victims of a scam.