The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has today warned Australians to beware of scammers trying to access their personal details, computer and bank accounts through new and dangerous methods.
Scammers are upping their game in an attempt to access data and money, with many people being caught out by people impersonating well-known businesses and even the police to gain access to computers to steal money and banking information.
The ACCC’s Scamwatch website has seen a dramatic spike in what are known as remote access scams. So far this year more than 8,000 reports have been recorded, with losses costing Australians $4.4 million. The new scams have been described as “concerning” and have already surpassed those for the whole of 2017.
“And sadly it is older Australians that are losing the most money,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Scammers are impersonating well-known companies including Telstra, NBN and Microsoft, while some are even pretending to be the police. These scammers are spinning credible and believable stories about why they need to access your computer using software such as TeamViewers.
“The scammers are becoming more sophisticated,” Rickard warns. “The old trick scammers used was to call people and say there was a virus on their computer that needed fixing but, in a new twist, scammers are now telling people they need their help to catch hackers.
Scammers claim they are tracking scammers and hackers but telling the consumer their computer has been compromised and being used to send scam messages. They then ask for the victim’s help, claiming they are able to use the computer and online banking to trap the scammer.
Hackers pretend to deposit money into their victim’s account, although what they’re really doing is shuffling money from one account to another, fooling people into believing money has been deposited. The scammers then transfer the money into their own bank account.
“Unfortunately there are many stories from people who give a scammer access to their computer and are then conned into giving access to online banking,” Rickard added. “Some are also tricked into providing iTunes gift card numbers over the phone to these scammers.”
The ACCC also explained that scammers become threatening if their victims doubt what they are doing, telling them they could jeopardise the investigation by refusing to help and even face legal action. It can be particularly scary for older members of society.
“It’s vital that people remember they should never, ever, give an unsolicited caller access to your computer, and under no circumstances offer your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone,” Rickard said. “If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer and remote access is requested, it’s a scam 100 per cent of the time. Just hang up.”