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Beware tech support

Consumers are being warned to beware of anyone instructing them to download software or an app over the phone, following a recent rise in reported losses to remote access scams.

Australians reported losing $15.5 million to remote access scams in 2023.

Reported losses to remote access scams in the first three months of this year increased by 52% compared to the previous quarter. The average loss per scam victim increased by 57% to $17,943 in the first quarter of this year, compared to the last quarter of 2023.

This trend, identified by the National Anti-Scam Centre, is in sharp contrast with most other scam types, which have seen reported losses decrease over this time.

ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said that Australians over the age of 65 are suffering the largest losses.

“Financial criminals use sophisticated emails, web-based pop-up messages and phone calls to impersonate well-known companies such as Microsoft to deceive people into thinking there is a problem with their account, computer or phone that needs fixing”, Lowe said.

“The scammer will sound professional and offer to help resolve the problem, by instructing the victim to download well-known screen sharing software such as AnyDesk, Zoho or Teamviewer. Unfortunately, by doing so, the scammer can gain access to their bank accounts.

“Never download software or apps if directed to by someone over the phone and never share banking information, passwords or two-factor identification codes”, she warned.

How does it work?

– You receive a phone call out of the blue, informing you of an issue with your account, phone, or computer.
– You speak with the scammer over the phone and are instructed to download software or an app which allows the scammer to gain control of your computer or mobile phone.
– Once a scammer has access to your computer or mobile phone they seek to access your bank accounts under the pretence that they are helping to resolve an account issue
– You may be asked to read out banking passwords or one time security codes which gives the scammer access to your bank accounts to complete fraudulent transactions.
– You may be unaware that scammers have drained your bank accounts of funds until the next time you access these accounts.

Here are the ACCC’s top tips to avoid scams:

STOP – Don’t rush to act. Hang up on anyone requesting you download software or an app over the phone. Never provide banking information, passwords, or two-factor identification codes over the phone.

THINK – Ask yourself if you really know who you are communicating with? Take the time to call the business you are dealing with using independently sourced contact details or verify the contact through their secure app.

PROTECT – Act quickly if something feels wrong. If you have shared financial information or transferred money, contact your bank immediately. Help others by reporting to Scamwatch.

About Adam Nobel

CEO | Principal
M. Bus, Grad Dip Adv, B.Int Bus, LREA

adam@hugoalexander.com.au

0417 007 001

Adam is the founder and Principal of Hugo Alexander Property Group. With a previous career in advertising, 22 years experience in property investment, and 16 years in Brisbane real estate, he knows the market inside out to ensure his clients grow their wealth faster.

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