What is a remote access scam?


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What is remote access scam?

worried man standing next to infected laptop

What's coming up?

In this activity, you’ll learn what a remote access scam is, and how they often begin with an unsolicited phone call falsely claiming that:

  • There’s a problem with your computer
  • Something bad is about to happen to an account you might have with a company, such as Amazon.
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What does a remote access scam look like?

Remote access scams involve a scammer getting access to your computer from another location while you’re using it, and tricking you into thinking you have computer problems you need to fix.

scammer taking money from a laptop
hacker over laptop installing malicious software

Some other kinds of remote access scam

Some remote access scammers claim to be from a government agency such as the tax office, or a major online retailer, and will insist you need to install certain software to avoid a fine or fix an erroneous charge.

How do remote access scams start?

The scammer usually contacts you via a mobile phone call, and will claim to be from your internet service provider, a government agency such as the tax office, or a major online retailer.

They may have obtained your number from a marketing database, and even if your number is unlisted they may still have obtained it fraudulently.

man on phone to scammer
man sitting at desk with laptop and talking to scammer on the phone

What the scammer does next

The scammer will talk with you on the phone, identify what kind of computer you have, and convince you to follow some steps on the computer. This eventually gives them access and the ability to control your computer remotely.

a locked padlock

eSafety tip

Remote access is a legitimate function on most computers and is part of your operating system. Home computers usually have remote access switched off by default, but scammers know this and will give instructions that activate remote access.

The scammer uses your computer remotely

Once they have access, the scammer will operate your computer from their own computer (even if they are overseas). They usually do this to make it seem like your computer has problems or errors.

They will then suggest you purchase expensive but unnecessary software to fix these fake problems.

man on computer making an online purchase
scammer taking money from man on laptop

What happens after you install their software

If you install the software, the remote access scammer will stop the fake problems with your computer, making it seem like the software works.

However, the software may also include other malicious software that searches your computer for personal details the scammer can use to steal your identity or access your finances.

Well done!

This is the end of the What is a remote access scam? activity. You’ve learned what a remote access scam is, and the steps scammers use to make it work.

Coming up next is the How to identify a remote access scam activity, which will show you a case study of a remote access scam and all the steps involved.

man with empty pockets looking distressed