Woman's Own

3 things to know about computer takeover scams


Which? is urging Brits to be aware of fraudsters using ‘computer takeover scams’ to steal money and personal details from victims. Here’s what to watch out for...

1 How does this scam work?

With this scam, criminals will typically cold-call victims pretending to be tech support from a reputable firm and offer help such as fixing a computer problem or improving internet speed. The fraudsters then try to persuade victims to give them access to their computer by installing ‘remote access software’. But once the scammers have gained access, it means they can steal money, passwords and other personal data. In some cases, scammers also pretend to carry out tests and charge a fee for their ‘services’.

2 How common is it?

Unfortunat­ely, victims of this scam are not isolated cases. Action Fraud revealed that from October 2019 to September 2020, it received 14,893 computer software service fraud reports, with reported losses reaching around £16.5 million over that period alone. However, it also appears that awareness of this particular scam is low among consumers. A study by Which? into how much people know about criminals using remote access software to trick victims into letting them access their computers or smartphone­s found four in 10 had never heard of the scam.

3 Has it happened to you?

If you think you’ve given remote access to a scammer, Which? says switch off both the device and your Wi-fi connectivi­ty. Speak to your bank urgently. Remove the remote access software you’ve installed and check if any other programs have been installed remotely. Change your email and online banking passwords and enable twofactor authentica­tion where possible. If you have security software, ensure it has all new and recent updates, then run a full security scan. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it at actionfrau­d.police.uk, or call 0300 123 2040.

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