Remote access scams
Scammers are finding ways to take control of unsuspecting people's devices.
Alexander Pan avatar
Written by Alexander Pan
Updated over a week ago

Scammers and cybercriminals have various ways to steal information and/or money from unsuspecting people. One of the more nefarious ways they can do this is through remote access scams.

As this is a major safety and privacy issue, we're going to take a deep dive into what remote access scams are and how to stay safe from them.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What exactly is a remote access scam?

As the name suggests, remote access scams are those where cybercriminals manage to take control of your device in order to steal information and money and cause general harm. This scam follows a general pattern:

  • The cybercriminal pretends to be from a well-known company or financial institution, such as Telstra, NBN and Microsoft, in order to present themselves as credible people.

    • You don’t have to be a customer of the company to be called by one of these scammers.

  • They will feed you some random excuse over some fake issue your device or computer may have. This can be excuses like your device or computer has been sending error messages or has a virus.

    • They may also mention problems with your internet connection or your phone line and say this has affected your computer's recent performance.

  • After telling you of the 'issue', they will request remote access to your computer or device to “find out what the problem is”.

    • They may also try to talk you into buying unnecessary software or service to “fix” your system. This is obviously fake!

Remote access scams are particularly dangerous as giving cybercriminals access to your computer or device can not only lead to your money and personal data being stolen, they can cause irreparable harm to your device.

Once cybercriminals have access to your device, they can install malware, such as keyloggers. These keyloggers record and 'log' each key you press and cybercriminals can use this information to capture confidential information such as login or banking details.

How do I protect myself against this scam?

Fortunately, there are ways to stay safe. In addition to staying vigilant, here are some tips to protect yourself:

  • Everyone can be targeted - Scammers and cybercriminals can obtain your phone number fraudulently or from anywhere it has been publicly listed. Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register

  • Keep your device/computer software up-to-date - Always keep your computer up-to-date with the latest software updates, anti-virus software and a good firewall.

  • Protect your personal and financial details - Never give your credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and you’re using a phone number from a trusted source like the organisation’s official website. Learn more about protecting your personal information.

  • Never give remote access to a stranger - Not even if they claim to be from a well-known business.

  • Hang up - if you receive a call out of the blue about your computer and remote access is requested, just hang up on them. It's clearly a scam.

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: 7News, Australian Cyber Security Centre, and Scamwatch

Image credit: Back to the Future

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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