MARKETING SPECIALIST

According to a report from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch, almost 6,500 Australians have reported remote access scams trying to convince them to download software that gives access to home computers and their financial information.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard notes:

Remote access scams are one of the largest growing scam types in Australia. Scammers take advantage of the digital world and the fear of fraud and cybercrime to access people’s devices and steal their money.

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Report Findings

Rickard added that people aged 55 and older lost over AU$4.4 million, accounting for almost half of total losses. On the other hand, young people reported losing on average AU$20,000, while eight Indigenous Australians, some in remote communities, lost a total of AU$38,000.

The ACCC said the scammers pretend to be from organizations such as Telstra, NBN Co, Amazon, and eBay, as well as banks, government institutions, police, and computer and IT support firms.

These types of scams are often an unexpected phone call telling the victims they’ve been billed for a purchase they didn’t make, their device has been compromised, or their account has been hacked. Sometimes they start with an SMS, email, or pop up on a screen from a scammer seeking urgent contact to fix an issue.

While remote access tools have been around for years to help IT support personnel in their work, scammers are also taking advantage of the ability to remotely access people’s computers or smartphones.

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Once the scammer has control of the device, they will ask the individual to log into applications such as emails, Internet banking, or PayPal accounts, which will grant him access to the victims’ banking and personal information to impersonate them or steal their money.

The report shows that the most commonly impersonated organizations in 2021 were Telstra with 1,730 reports, and losses of $1.95 million, followed by NBN Co with 1,023 reports and reported losses of $477,980.

New organizations being impersonated since late 2020 were Amazon with 801 reports and losses of $1,240,288 and eBay with 230 reports and losses of $149,087.

How to Stay Safe

In order to stay safe from these types of scams, Rickard recommends taking some extra security measures.

  • If you receive contact from someone claiming to be from a telecommunications company, a technical support service provider, or an online marketplace, hang up.
  • If you think the communication may have been legitimate, independently source the contact details for the organization to contact them. Don’t use the contact details in the communication. Also, don’t click on any of the links.
  • Never provide banking details to anyone except to verify transactions you are making in your mobile banking app or through your online banking,

Remember – no matter how sophisticated your defenses are, many breaches start out from a poorly informed choice from the user’s end.

Lately, banks and institutions have started to educate their customers on how to spot phishing attacks and so on, through the form of newsletters and other communications, but even more, consistent effort is needed. The better-prepared customers are, the stronger the entire banking community is.

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