The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned about a new kind of scammer. These scammers catch out people by impersonating well-known businesses or the police so they can get access to computers and steal money or banking information.
And the number of scams is rising.
The ACCC’s Scamwatch website has recorded a significant spike in remote access scams, with more than 8000 reports recorded in 2018 so far and losses totalling $4.4 million.
The scammers impersonate a well-known company, most commonly Telstra, NBN or Microsoft, or even the police. They then spin a very credible and believable story about why they need to access your computer using software such as TeamViewer.
They claim they are tracking the ‘scammers’ or ‘hackers’, and tell the consumer that their computer has been compromised and is being used to send scam messages. This is where they say with the victim’s help, they can use the victim’s computer and online banking to trap the (fake) ‘scammer’.
“The spike in remote access scams is very concerning; losses so far in 2018 have already surpassed those for the whole of 2017, and sadly it is older Australians that are losing the most money,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“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.”