This month Action Fraud launched a new national awareness campaign about remote access scams. Our guest, the City of London Police, explains more.
This is a guest article by Christine Barnes. All views expressed are Christine’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
More than £50 million was lost last year to scams where victims were tricked into handing over control of their computer or smartphone to criminals.
New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, reveals that 20,144 people fell victim to scams where they were persuaded to grant criminals remote access to their device.
Some of the most common scams reported to Action Fraud involve fraudsters connecting remotely to a victim's computer.
— Action Fraud (@actionfrauduk) April 6, 2022
How do remote access tool scams work?
Remote access tool scams will often begin with a browser pop-up saying that your computer is infected with a virus, or with a call from someone claiming to be from your bank saying that they need to connect to your computer in order to cancel a fraudulent transaction on your account.
Criminals will try to persuade the victim to download and connect via a remote access tool, which allows the criminal to gain access to the victims computer or mobile phone. If the victim allows the criminal connection via the tool, they are able to steal money and access the victims banking information.
The City of London Police advise:
⚠ Only install software or grant remote access to your computer if you’re asked by someone you know and trust, such as a friend or family member, and never as a result of an unsolicited call, browser pop up, or text message.
⚠ Remember, a bank or service provider will never contact you out of the blue requesting remote access to your device.
⚠ If you believe your laptop, PC, tablet or phone has been infected with a virus or some other type of malware, follow the NCSC’s guidance on recovering an infected device.
⚠ Protect your money by contacting your bank immediately on a different device from the one the scammer contacted you on.
⚠ Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, please report to Police Scotland directly by calling 101.
Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign
Action Fraud also advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.
⚠ Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
⚠ Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
⚠ Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
This was a guest article by Christine Barnes. All views expressed were Christine’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
In 2020, Which? raised serious concerns about remote access software scams. One of the worst cases we came across resulted in a Which? member losing £80,000 after a ‘BT engineer’ phoned about ‘problems in the area’.
Have you ever been asked to give access to your device via remote access software? Did you suspect it was a scam?
Let us know what happened in the comments and help raise awareness of this type of fraud.