Updated: May 21, 2020
Imagine falling victim to Remote Access Fraud… You wake up one morning to find you’ve lost some money. Not the loose change your children sometimes “lovingly” borrow out of your wallet from time to time, but the kind that really worries you and shows up on your bank balance as obviously down from when you checked it the night before.
Your mind does a quick check… “no it’s not month-end; no it isn’t dreaded debit order time; and no I didn’t purchase anything online recently…mmm? Could it be the monthly bank fees?” No. It’s none of the “nice and normal” transactions. It’s something more worrying. It’s a fraudulent transaction. It’s Remote Access Fraud.
What is Remote Access Fraud? In a remote access scam, a scammer attempts to persuade you into giving them remote control over your personal computer by convincing you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem. These sophisticated software programs allow the scammer to then steal your private information and con you out of your money.
How remote access fraud works
The Cold Call – The fraudster calls, pretending to be a tech support specialist telling you your computer is infected with malware, pretends to be from your bank helping to block a recent fraudulent transaction or they may claim that your broadband connection has been hacked – anything that convinces you they are legit and you need their help. The caller will request remote access to your computer to ‘find’ and ‘fix’ the problem.
The Download – You download the remote access software, and with the help of the fraudster, install it on your PC. These programs allow someone from another computer to operate your computer as if they were sitting right in front of it.
The Scam – While the scammer is connected to your computer, they will: 1. Make it seem like your computer has a problem and offer to fix the problem for a fee. They’ll pretend to repair your computer and take your money. 2. Possibly use any credit card or bank details you give them to make additional fraudulent charges in the future. 3. Convince you to login to online bank accounts and then lock you out while they make unauthorised transactions and defraud you. Malware – While a scammer has remote access to your computer, it’s highly likely that they will install malware on your device, as well. Undetected malware can allow hackers to steal your identity, including your passwords and financial information, over and over again, even if you get new passwords and account numbers.
How to Avoid Becoming a Remote Access Fraud Victim 1. If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer and remote access is requested – hang up – even if they mention a well-known company like your bank. 2. If you see a pop-up or virus warning on your computer advising you to call a number, it’s a scam. 3. Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer, as doing so lets them bypass a great deal of your cyber security. 4. Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. 5. Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Research first and only purchase software from a source that you know and trust.
Have you been scammed? If you have given remote access to your computer, or you fear that your computer has been hacked, seek help or advice from a qualified and reputable computer technician. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately. Consider changing your email address and phone numbers. Report the scam. And spread the word to friends and family to protect them and others.
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