How remote access scams are fleecing older Australians of thousands and how you can avoid falling victim

Jun 06, 2024
Australians are being increasingly targeted by scammers with those aged over 65 seeing a recent increase in losses to scams. Source: Getty Images.

With reports indicating that Australians aged over 65 have reported the largest losses from remote access scams, older Aussies have been warned to be on the look out for scammers claiming to fix IT issues requiring them to download software, or an app over the phone.

Remote access scams typically begin with an unexpected phone call claiming there’s a problem with your account, phone, or computer.

The caller will then guide you to download software or an app that grants them control over your device.

With access secured, they pose as helpful agents resolving issues but instead attempt to extract sensitive information like banking passwords or security codes.

Unbeknownst to victims, the scammer will exploit this data to steal money from bank accounts.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Deputy Chair, Catroina Lowe, said remote scammers have drained “entire bank accounts”, with Australians reporting losses of $15.5 million in 2023.

“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.”

Australians are being increasingly targeted by scammers with those aged over 65 seeing a recent increase in losses to scams compared to any other age group, losing over $120 million in 2023.

This is despite reports from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that showed that scam losses reported between January to March this year have declined by 11 per cent compared to the same time last year.

For those who want to stay one step ahead of scammers and protect their personal information, the National Anti-Scam Centre suggests the following precautionary measures to avoid falling victim to such malicious activity.

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

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up