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  • The number of computer takeover scams are on the rise, according to new figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  • The consumer watchdog reports $7.2 million has been stolen from Australians by scammers remotely accessing their home or work computers
  • The ACCC says that’s a 184 per cent rise compared to last year, with 6500 people complaining of scammers asking them to download remote access hardware
  • Scammers will pose as employees of well-known service providers in order to get users to download the software, before using it to access their accounts
  • Australians aged over 55 are most at risk, with the ACCC reporting high numbers of theft complaints from this age group

The number of computer takeover scams are on the rise, according to new figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The consumer watchdog reported on Monday that $7.2 million has been stolen by scammers remotely accessing Australian’s home or work computers.

That figure represents a 184 per cent increase year on year, with the ACCC reporting almost 6500 calls for help in the last year.

It said scammers would pose as workers from legitimate service providers, such as the NBN, and contact customers about an urgent issue.

The scammers would then ask the victim to download remote access hardware so that they can use access their computer, before stealing personal banking details.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said unfortunately this type of scam was growing in popularity.

“Remote access scams are one of the largest growing scam types in Australia,” Ms Rickard said.

“Scammers take advantage of the digital world and the fear of fraud and cybercrime to access people’s devices and steal their money.”

Ms Rickard warned older Australians were most at risk, with people aged over 55 losing the most amount of money to the scams.

The ACCC leader recommended anyone who receives a call out of the blue from a service provider hang up and phone them back on an official line.

“It is really important not to let anyone who contacts you out of the blue access your devices, as once you give them access, you have no way of knowing what the person will do to your computer or what programs they may install,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you receive contact from someone claiming to be from a telecommunications company, a technical support service provider or online marketplace, hang up.

“If you think the communication may have been legitimate, independently source the contact details for the organisation to contact them. Don’t use the contact details in the communication.  Also, don’t click on any of the links.

“Remember, your bank will never ask you to give them access to your computer or accounts, nor will they ask for the codes to verify transactions.”

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