Remote Access Scams
What is a remote access scam?
A remote access scam is when someone contacts you and requires you download software, either to your computer or mobile, that allows the third party to access your device. Remote access scammers pose as many different businesses, but often claim to assist with refunds for subscriptions you haven’t signed up for, assist to catch hackers or resolve technical issues.
Once access is shared to your device, scammers control what you see on screen to legitimise their claims and often coerce you to access your Online Banking. You may be asked to perform transactions, or share Security Codes to enable the scammer to complete these actions on your behalf.
They may also use this access to steal your personal data or gain access to your friends' and family’s information.
Example of scam*
Dani received a call from someone claiming to be from her phone company and that they had detected a hacker accessing her computer and were calling to help her clean her device.
She was told what to type into her computer so they could access her computer and help her.
The caller advised it is common for hackers to access online banking, so she signed in to check her account. Once signed in, her screen went blank and the caller advised they would fix this.
While waiting for the caller to fix her computer, they advised the process may generate an SMS from her bank and that if she received this, it was OK to share this with them as they were helping her and the code was to verify the fix.
Shortly after Dani’s screen reappeared and the caller advised their work was completed.
Unfortunately, this was a remote access scam. A scammer had taken control of her computer and while signed into her banking, they transferred $10,000 from her home loan to her transaction account. The SMS code she shared enabled the $10,000 to then be transferred to the scammers bank account.
Signs this may be a scam
Call for help or assistance.
Legitimate organisations will not call you for assistance with activities such as catching hackers, fixing NBN or computer issues, helping with secretive tasks, or providing refunds.
Mouse moving on its own?
You've downloaded requested software (e.g. Team Viewer, Any Desk or Quick Support) and shared access to your device. An indicator of a user remotely accessing your device is that the mouse moves on its own. Never share access to your device.
Requests you to access your banking.
Hang up and turn off your device. Never sign in to Online Banking if you are sharing access to your device. Never share your security codes with anyone, and always thoroughly read the message.
Make a refund or transaction.
A caller asks you to make transactions, or 'refund' a deposit you see in your account and coaches you what to say to the bank. Do not act on these instructions. Be honest with us to help protect your money.
Financial institutions, government agencies and most organisations will never contact you requesting access to your device, share your passwords, security codes, PIN’s or other personal information via a pop up or a phone call. Never share these with anyone, regardless of the claims being made. Always call organisations back on trusted numbers found on their website or phone directory to validate any of these types of requests.
What you can do if you
come across a scam
Let us know
- Please report scams or suspicious activity immediately to Westpac at 132 032 or +61 2 9155 7700 (if calling from overseas).
- Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS/text messages to 0497 132 032 then delete the email or message.
- You can also report all suspicious activity to the Australian Cyber Security Centre at cyber.gov.au/report.
Get support and stay in the know
- IDCARE provides free, confidential support and guidance to those impacted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise. Call them toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit idcare.org.
- Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from scamwatch.gov.au/subscribe.
- Check out our latest scams, for copies of recently reported scams at westpac.com.au/scams.
Need a recap? Watch this video
Things you should know
* Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.