Anyone can be vulnerable to remote access fraud. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau estimate that in the 6 months between June and November 2014 there were more than 12,000 reports of attempted computer software service fraud, and most of this fraudulent activity was remote access fraud.
What is Remote Access Fraud?
We define remote access fraud as a fraudulent attempt to gain access to your device in order to compromise your security. That might entail somebody calling you, alleging to be from a tech or utility company offering to remove old software or a known virus from your computer or to inform you of a compromised router, for example. They may request for you to download a program like Teamviewer or to grant remote access in order for them to resolve the fictional issue. Sites like Teamviewer are legitimate sites but allow the caller to take control of your desktop session. They may extend to asking for payment to help 'fix' your computer for you or to accept an EIA call - the payment verification call which some banks make to you - in order to 'test' security. If successful in any of these attempts, this could allow them to control your computer from their location and trick you into revealing personal details or logging into Internet Banking.
How can I guard against Remote Access Fraud?
You should initially question why you are being contacted. Could your computer manufacturer know that you had a virus on your machine? Do they have your contact details to contact you personally? Would you expect to be asked for payment or to be asked to log into Internet Banking if you were contacted personally? Common sense checking is a first line of defence against these scams. Much like your bank, your manufacturer would not cold call you to ask for remote access to your machine, to ask for personal details nor request payment or transfer of funds.
As the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau data shows, thousands of people are taken in each year. The caller will usually address you by name and will likely sound professional, knowledgeable and polite. There may even be several criminals acting as a team, transferring you from one fictional department to another. There are lots of ways fraudsters can obtain your contact information. Think about the newsletters you subscribe to or the social media accounts that you have. Fraudsters could have acquired your details from any number of online spaces.
If you do receive a call like this, never download remote access software or log into Internet Banking while someone other than you has access to your machine or device and hang up straight away.
What do I do if I've fallen for Remote Access Fraud?
If you have been tricked into installing something or visited a suspect website, you should scan your device with your security software and remove any malware that you may discover. If you're concerned about your mobile or tablet,
read our guide to phone security
. It's advisable to seek advice from a reputable computer expert if you still have concerns. They can ensure that your device is free of any malicious software.
If you're concerned that you have handed over private details such as bank details or credit card information, call your bank immediately. You should use a different device, preferably one which could not have been exposed to the same risk to change any online banking passwords and access codes and, if necessary, cancel the affected cards. You should keep an eye on your bank accounts to ensure that you can identify any fraudulent transactions quickly.
You should protect your laptop or desktop computer with up to date antivirus software. Keeping the operating software on your phone up to date is the best way to keep your device protected but there is a lot more to
keeping your phone secure
. Being aware of the risks can help protect you against malicious software and can make all the difference to combating remote access fraud.
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