What is a remote access scam?

If you have someone who contacts you unexpectedly, often via phone call, offering to help 'fix problems' with your internet, account, phone or computer by gaining access to your devices, this is a remote access scam. By gaining access to your device they are able to steal your personal information. Remote access scams are causing increasing financial loss.

What happens?

Scammers sound professional and it’s easy to think they’re legitimate. They’ll ask you to download a screen-sharing (or remote desktop application) software, then once they have access they will steal from you.

Australians reported lost $15.5 million to these scams in 2023, with criminals stealing averages in the tens of thousands of dollars. Australians over 65 years old are losing the most money in these scams.

How to spot the scam

  • You receive an unexpected phone call from someone telling you there's a problem with your internet, computer, phone or account.
  • They may impersonate someone from a well-known bank, internet or phone company, software company or web security business to try to gain your trust and tell you that they can help you 'fix the problem'.
  • They tell you to download a certain software or an app which will allow them to remotely control your device to help you ‘fix the problem’.

How the scam works

  • Once you download the software or app they requested you to download, the scammer can now fully control your device.
  • Since there is actually no problem, they don’t ‘fix’ anything.
  • They may ask you to tell them your banking passwords or one-time security codes as a part of ‘fixing’ the problem.
  • Once you share these, the scammer now has access to your bank accounts, personal information and can steal your money.
  • You might not realise they have stolen your money and emptied your bank accounts until the next time you log in.

Protect yourself

STOP – Don’t let the sense of urgency rush you into taking actions. Hang up on anyone who asks you to download software or an app over the phone. Never provide anyone your banking information, passwords, or 2-factor identification codes over the phone.

THINK – Take a second to ask yourself, do you even know this person who is on the phone with you? Take the time to call the business you're dealing with using independently sourced contact details or check you're talking to a real employee using their secure app.

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

If you've fallen victim to a remote access scam

  • If you have lost money, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
  • If you've had personal information stolen or need support to recover from a scam, contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160.
  • Help others by reporting scams to Scamwatch.
  • Tell your friends and family: you can share your experience, get support and help to protect others from scams.