Get clued in about Remote Access scams

It goes without saying that there are more than a few sharks you can come across when surfing the web. Digital safety is a growing concern and it’s important to stay in the loop about the risks you may come across when using the ’net.

You may have seen our previous blog with tips on how to keep one eye open for the scammers. Now it’s time to talk about a different kind of scam which utilises a kind of software known as Remote Access.

In 2017 alone, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s Scamwatch reported over $2 million lost to Remote Access scams and the amount lost each month has continued to rise.


To keep you in the know, we’ve put together all you need to know about what Remote Access is, how it’s being used in scams, and what to do if you suspect you’ve been targeted.

What is Remote Access?

‘Remote Access’, is a colloquial way to refer to Remote Computer Management software such as TeamViewer, LogMeIn Rescue, GoToMyPC and others. This software allows you to create a connection to someone else’s computer and access it from a remote location. Once a connection has been established, you can move the owner’s cursor on the screen, run programs, and access files. Basically, you can use the computer exactly as if you were sitting right there at the keyboard!

Genuine uses of Remote Access include software training, creative collaboration, business meetings, IT management and of course, tech support. Even the iiNet Support Team uses Remote Access from time to time. Remote Access can help our customer service reps walk you through software and configuration issues such as setting up an iiNet mailbox in your email program, or adjusting the WiFi settings in your iiNet modem.

Remote Access is a great tool if you know what you’re doing with it and you trust the source. However, you should be very suspicious of anyone asking you to accept a Remote Access connection out of the blue.

How is Remote Access utilised for scams?

According Scamwatch, the most common way you’ll encounter a Remote Access scam is via phone call, distantly followed by the internet (e.g. website pop-ups), text messages, and emails.


How does the scam work?

Someone will contact you out of the blue, typically claiming to be from a well-known computer or telecommunications company such as Telstra, NBNCo or Microsoft. They’ll claim that there’s something wrong with your computer such as a computer virus, error messages, poor internet connection or hacking. They’ll then ask you for Remote Access to your computer to fix the issue or find out what the cause of the problem is.

Before the Remote Access connection is established, the scammer may try to:

  • Obtain your personal information
  • Get your bank account or credit card details
  • Convince you to buy software you don’t need (while you do need to download a client to allow a Remote Access connection, it shouldn’t cost you money).

If the scammer does manage to get a Remote Access connection to a computer, then things get really serious. With full control of your computer, it’s possible they might Install viruses or other malicious software (malware) on your computer, such as:

  • ‘Ransomware’ which will freeze up your computer’s other functions until you make a payment.
  • ‘Spyware’ which will keep track of everything you do and send it to third parties without your knowledge.
  • More Remote Access software which will allow them to maintain control of your computer even after it appears that the Remote Access connection is finished.

What to do if you suspect you’ve been targeted

First things first, you need to end the contact and make sure you don’t respond to the scammer.

  • If it’s a phone call, hang up.
  • If it’s a text message or email, do not reply or open any links/attachments.
  • If it’s a malicious popup on a website, close the window. In some cases you may need to close your whole web browser. If all else fails, switch off your computer.

If you’ve already been hooked and there’s been a successful Remote Access connection on your computer, take action as soon as possible by follow these steps:

  • If you made any payments or you believe your bank account or credit details are at risk, contact your financial institution immediately.
  • Disconnect your computer from the internet. If you’re not sure how to do this in your computer settings, simply turning off or unplugging your internet modem will do the trick.
  • You must take your computer to a qualified computer technician who can scan for and remove any viruses or malware that may have been installed.
  • Until your computer has been fixed, DO NOT use it for confidential communications or activities such as online banking – it’s possible that these actions are being monitored by spyware which could expose you to theft or fraud.

Whenever you encounter a scam, even it was a failed attempt, you should always report it to Scamwatch so the ACCC can use the information to warn the community.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest in scams and dodgy dealers, be sure to bookmark the ACCC’s SCAMWATCH website.

Image credits


  1. Yes, most important thing for your device is its security, this post is really so informative and has so much information, thanks for sharing it.

  2. Jan says:

    So for what year is the graph January to December? 2017? Or is it an average of the last several years??
    Why was the amount lost in March, so much less than in November? Are the scammers less active or are the targeted customers less gullible? If we knew this, then we could be well on the way to reducing the threat.

  3. JOHN KUS says:


    Open Control Panel.
    Click on System.
    Up on the right hand corner you will see a list of options… CLICK ON “REMOTE ACCESS” AND YOU WILL SEEE A BOX “ALLOW REMOTE ACCESS”

    John @ Gelorup communications.

  4. JOHN KUS says:

    Hi Gina

    It is a waste of time reporting these scams to the ACCC scamwatch site… nothing eventuates… they cannot prevent them!!

    I have a suggestion .. how about all Westnet and IINET customers who have a comprehensive package ie phone and internet, provide you with a list of these scammers’ phone number (provided you have CLI) AND as a service to its clients WESTNET AND IINET could investigate the possibility of blocking in-coming calls or diverting the malicious calls to an appropriate recorded voice service. It believe it may require the cooperation of either Telstra and/or NBN, but don’t expect co-operation.

    If you would like a list of some of these numbers than please contact me.

    Kind regards John @ Gelorup Communications

    • Gina Thompson says:

      Hi John,

      While SCAMwatch doesn’t prevent scams, it’s an important public resource that helps people learn about how scams operate so they are less likely to be hooked by one. Reporting scams to SCAMwatch adds to this knowledge base.

      Your suggestion would be a good solution, but unfortunately it’s not technically feasible.

      Kind regards, Gina

  5. Aneta Stevenson says:

    Thank you for reminding us about scams, will pass on this advice

  6. Keith says:

    I regularly get phone calls from an Indian, speaking person who claims that :they represent Telstra & that I have problems with my inter-net or PC has virus as I am not with Telstra I tend to tell them to get lost, but how do these people get my land line info & Name

  7. Eve Webb says:

    Thankyou, an excellent post. However, why can’t telecommunications companies do more to prevent these multi dial scammers from calling us in the first place. Prevention being better than cure.

  8. Fred Mazzaferri says:

    At this very moment I’m being plagued by offers of cheap viagra which I instantly delete. But I’d dearly love a report address to which I could forward each for possible action.

  9. Brian Jones says:

    Yes great work iinet especially for us senior citizens. This article is very easy to understand and makes us feel a lot more secure in knowing how to handle this situation if it occurs.
    Many thanks

  10. Automatic Jack says:

    I get a few of these calls even on a private number. Usually there will be a gap of 4-8 seconds before an invariably heavily accented voice comes in with the opening lie. For these people I have an umpire’s whistle next to the phone – seems to work …

  11. Harry says:

    I have been in the position where they tried to scam me but realised it was a scam. I waisted about an hour of their time and had some fun doing it acting the real chum. They thought they had me and then just hung up. Whilst i wasted a bit of time , I also tied up their phone and they could not ring any one else.

  12. Bernard A. Martin says:

    Very interesting I’ve had several emails asking to be my friend. Needless to say I put them into my trash box then empty it.

  13. Kathy Bigic says:

    Ilost my mobile iPhone 4 before3-4 months unlocked, can this person see my Facebook, e-mails like me (on my tablet or new iphone) ,privately. Can I have answer?Thank you Kathy

    • Brianna Burgess says:

      Hi Kathy,

      We’d encourage contacting Apple to discuss what access they may have – It would depend on if your iPhone had a passcode and the intentions of the person who found the handset. There is a great article on the Apple Support website that may be able to assist:

      – Brianna

  14. Greg says:

    Like Harry I get great satisfaction wasting these phone scammers time by pretending to comply with their requests and not understand how my computer works. I have managed to be passed up their chain of command until a supervisor eventually realised I was just wasting his time. This took at least half an hour during which he wasn’t able to scam anyone else – he was furious with me and lost his cool – which I greatly enjoyed!

  15. Richard says:

    Looks like a scam today purporting to be iinet – saying you will get a refund for double payment
    The source is almost completely blank so you cant see the original source

  16. Hi John,

    While SCAMwatch doesn’t avoid scams, it’s an important public capability that helps people learn about how scams achieve so they are less likely to be absorbed by one. Reporting scams to SCAMwatch adds to this knowledge base.

    Your approach would be a good solution, but horribly it’s not technically achievable.

    Kind compliments, Ritesh Kashyap