Remote access scammers take $7.2m from Aussies

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Remote access scammers take $7.2m from Aussies

In the first half of 2021.

Australia consumers lost at least $7.25 million to remote access scammers this year with Telstra and NBN Co the most impersonated organisations.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC's) Scamwatch division said it has received "around 6250 reports" of remote access scams in 2021 alone, an increase of 184 percent on the same time last year.

Scamwatch received 1730 reports of Telstra impersonators duping consumers out of a collective $1.95 million.

Another 1023 reports were linked to callers claiming to be from NBN Co, who manageds to scam $477,980 out of consumers.

Unsurprisingly, at a time when e-commerce is a major shopping channel, Amazon and eBay were also frequently impersonated by scammers.

In a remote access scam, consumers are called and persuaded to download legitimate software that can be used to remotely log into a computer.

Scammers often tell targets that their personal accounts or devices have been comprised and require urgent attention. 

Once they have access, scammers often try a ruse to gain access to the consumers' bank account to fleece them of cash.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said 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,” Rickard said.

Rickard said people receiving “out of the blue” calls asking to install programs should hang up.

“If you receive contact from someone claiming to be from a telecommunications company, a technical support service provider or online marketplace, hang up," she said.

"If you think the communication may have been legitimate, independently source the contact details for the organisation to contact them. Don’t use the contact details in the communication.  Also, don’t click on any of the links.”

The ACCC is currently working with the private sector to intercept scam calls by sharing data gathered with telecommunications carriers to trace or block calls.

Already Telstra has doubled the number of suspected scam calls it is blocking each month.

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