Computer access scams on the rise: Be safer in three steps

Couple on a bed checking out their computer to make sure they didn't get scammed.

Australians have had more than $7.2 million stolen by scammers who gained access to their home computers, said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Since the start of 2021 there has been an 184% increase of scammers gaining access to personal home computers. This type of scam is called remote access scam, where the scammer pretends to be from well-known organisations such as major banks, retailers, government agencies or IT support. 

Typically the scammer will try to create a dire sense of urgency to trick the victims into giving them remote access to their computers to offer assistance.

“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,” ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard said.

“These types of scams target and impact all people and can be convincing. People aged 55 and older lost over $4.4 million, accounting for almost half of total losses. “Young people reported losing on average $20,000 and eight Indigenous Australians, some in remote communities, lost a total of $38,000.”

Once a scammer has access to your computer—by asking you to download a software that gives them remote control—they may convince you to log in to your personal accounts such as emails or online banking. Upon gaining access to your information, you run the risk of the scammer stealing your money or trying to impersonate you.

In 2019, Australians lost over $634 million to various scams. Scams have changed a lot over the years, and the ones behind them have gotten more clever in their ways to attempt to scam Australians. 

How to handle scams tips

  • Don’t click on links from unsolicited emails or direct messages
  • Most corporations will send you emails with your name, so be weary of emails that start with ‘Dear customer’
  • Banks and telecommunications will never ask to have access to your personal accounts or computers 

If you are worried about scams and want to learn how to avoid them, check out Mozo’s How To Avoid Scams guide.