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Don’t let scammers trick their way in - 6 steps to protect yourself from remote access scams

Security specialist

2024-02-29 05:30

Estimated reading time
5 min

Key points

  • Remote access scams involve cybercriminals gaining access to your computer to steal personal information, install ransomware, or demand payment for fake services.
  • Learn how to identify and protect yourself against remote access scams so you can keep your information safe.
  • Learn what to do if you have been scammed.

Have you ever had a helpful expert access your computer remotely to fix a glitch? It’s pretty impressive technology, and it can save you a trip or two to the shops, but unfortunately for us, cybercriminals find it useful too.

In 2023, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Scamwatch reported over 8,000 incidents of remote access scams, resulting in losses exceeding $15 million.

This is why it pays to stay vigilant with regular security alerts to keep you across the latest threats to your online safety. So, let’s take a look at how these scams usually play out, red flags to watch out for, and how you can keep yourself and loved ones safe when using your tech.


What are remote access scams?

A remote access scam is where a scammer manipulates you into giving them access to your computer or device from a distance.


How do scammers perform remote access scams?

Scammers often pose as representatives from reputable organisations (like, a technology or telecommunications company, the bank or even a government agency) and initiate contact through unsolicited phone calls, emails, or internet browser pop-up windows.

After making contact, they might:

  • Try to convince you there’s a problem with your device, like a security concern, that requires urgent attention.
  • Offer to solve the problem for you by remotely accessing your computer.
  • Get you to download remote access software that’s concealed as a different program, such as live chat.

Once the cybercriminals have access, they can steal personal information, install malicious software  or demand payment for fake services.

It can be quite scary. But there are some ways to make sure your cyber-house stays safe when remote access scammers come calling.


How to spot a remote access scam

It takes vigilance to spot a remote access scam, so let’s look at some of the big red flags to watch for.

  • Unsolicited contact: Be cautious of unexpected contact from tech support of a telecom or computer company, especially if they claim to have detected issues on your device. Legitimate companies don't initiate contact in this manner.

  • Unexpected pop-up messages and emails: These messages or emails will warn you that you have a computer virus. But they could be phishing attempts, designed to trick you into granting remote access to your computer.

  • Pressure tactics: Scammers may claim an issue is urgent, requiring immediate resolution. Genuine tech support should always be accommodating of identity and security checks.

  • Request for remote access: Cybercriminals pose as trustworthy organisations, asking for remote access to your computer. While many genuine tech companies do use this technology, they won’t be the ones initiating contact.

  • Inconsistencies in communication: Keep an eye out for poor grammar, spelling errors, or generic language. Legitimate tech support communicates professionally, while cybercriminals can come across as unprofessional.

  • Unconventional payment methods: Be suspicious if the technician asks you to buy software or sign up for a service to fix your computer. They may also request payment through unconventional methods like gift cards. Legitimate companies will follow standard payment procedures.

  • Sudden device changes: New changes to your computer or mobile device’s performance, settings, or files might come from unauthorised access. Stay alert and investigate any unexpected changes like a mouse cursor moving unexpectedly on the screen.

  • Request access to your banking: While the scammer is using your device remotely, they might ask for you to log in to your online banking so they can make a test payment or refund. Genuine companies will never ask you to do this.


6 steps to protect yourself against remote access scams.

We get it, sometimes it’s hard to know who to trust. But there are some actions you and your loved ones can do to stay safe online.

1. Beware of unsolicited calls, emails or messages

    Never grant remote access to your computer or mobile device or share personal information like bank account details in response to unsolicited contact. Legitimate organisations will not request sensitive information or call you out of the blue requesting access.

2. Never grant remote access to unknown people

    Only allow remote access for tech support from reputable sources that you have initiated contact with, and whose identify you have verified.

3.Regularly update software and security programs

    Ensure that your operating system, antivirus software, and other security programs are kept up to date. Regular updates often include fixes for vulnerabilities. Better yet, set it and forget it by turning on automatic updates.

4. Educate yourself

    Stay across the latest scams, fraud and security alerts from ANZ.

5. Verify the identity of the caller

    Legitimate tech support companies will not initiate contact without prior communication. If you get a call out of the blue, tell them you will call them back on the contact number for support from the organisation they claim to be representing.

    Legitimate tech support companies will not initiate contact without prior communication. If you get a call out of the blue, tell them you will call them back on the contact number for support from the organisation they claim to be representing.

6. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

    This adds an extra layer of protection should someone access your devices or accounts remotely. MFA requires an additional verification step, such as a code sent to your mobile, in addition to entering your password.

What can you do if you think you’ve been scammed?

If you have been targeted by a remote access scam, you are not alone. We’re here to take you through some ways to protect yourself from further financial harm. The first step is to disconnect your device from the internet.

Next, run a thorough security scan, change passwords for all sensitive accounts on a separate device.

Contact ANZ immediately if you have shared financial information or transferred money as a result of this scam. You can also report the incident to ReportCyber and help others by reporting the scam to Scamwatch.

Further support for victims of remote access scams:

  • You can contact the Australian cyber security hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 CYBER1 (or 1300 292 371).
  • For phishing or identity theft associated with government accounts such as Centrelink, Medicare, or Child Support, contact the Services Australia Scams and Identity Helpdesk on 1800 941 126 or find out more via their website.
  • You can also contact IDCare, a not-for-profit organisation providing support to those experiencing identity and cyber security concerns.
Don’t let scammers trick their way in - 6 steps to protect yourself from remote access scams
Security specialist

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The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations. You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.