Remote access scam losses growing, ACCC says 

Older Australians are being warned to be wary of anyone requesting remote access to their computer, after a spate of fake IT helpdesk scams.

Losses to these types of scams have been growing recently. Last year, Aussies lost a reported $15.5 million to remote access scams, and losses in the first quarter of 2024 have increased 52 per cent over the previous quarter.

The alarming increase is in stark contrast to other types of scams that have decreased in 2024, according to figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) National Anti-Scam Centre.

The average loss per victim of remote access scams is $17,943 in Q1 2024 – a 57 per cent increase on the previous quarter, and it’s people aged 65 and over who are suffering the greatest losses.

How do remote access scams work?

Catriona Lowe, deputy chair of the ACCC, says scammers are approaching victims through emails, online messages and phone calls purporting to be from reputable tech companies.

They convince their unsuspecting prey that there is an issue with their computer or account and that they need to access the victim’s computer remotely.

Once the scammer has control, they can gain access to bank accounts.

“We are very concerned scammers are draining entire bank accounts, with average losses to remote access scams now in the tens of thousands,” she says.

“Financial criminals use sophisticated emails, web-based pop-up messages and phone calls to impersonate well-known companies such as Microsoft to deceive people into thinking there is a problem with their account, computer or phone that needs fixing.

“The scammer will sound professional and offer to help resolve the problem, by instructing the victim to download well-known screen sharing software such as AnyDesk, Zoho or Teamviewer. Unfortunately, by doing so, the scammer can gain access to their bank accounts.

“Never download software or apps if directed to by someone over the phone and never share banking information, passwords or two-factor identification codes.”

How can I avoid remote access scams?

The ACCC says one of the best ways to avoid these scams is to slow down. If you receive a message instructing you to do something, don’t just blindly follow it.

Legitimate businesses will not request your passwords or want you to download an external app, even if the app itself is legitimate.

Likewise, they will not request banking information or two-factor identification codes over phone or email.

With any request, stop to ask yourself if you are sure you know who you are communicating with? If there is any doubt, don’t follow their instructions and contact the business directly yourself to confirm.

If you do notice something seems amiss, don’t wait to act, do it right away. Contact your bank immediately to cancel cards or any money transfers you may have initiated.

If you spot something that looks suspicious, the ACCC says you should report it immediately to its scam reporting service Scamwatch.

Have you encountered this remote access scam before? Do you think you could spot it if you did? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Centrelink warns of ‘bonus payment’ Age Pension scam

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Ignore any calls which are not in your contacts list and, delete and block all emails you were not expecting. Served me well for many years. If, in the odd instance it is a legitimate contact, they will forward correspondence to you by Australia Post.

  2. The prevalence of these scam crimes is absolutely shocking. Why aren’t people more aware?? Basically none of us can trust a phonecall, email or text. Treat them all as suspicious. Call the business or department using a phone number you have looked up yourself from a trusted source… and not some possible scammer who might have give you a number to call back or a link to click onto. These scammers are very convincing because they have your personal information. But NEVER willingly trust or do what they ask you to do when it comes to your bank accounts or money payments.

  3. If you get a phone call you;re not sure about, go to your home page on your computer, type in the number followed by a’ ?’. The display will tell you all about that number, and how many people have had the same call and that it is a scam number. If you don’t have a computer, hang up. I had an email the other day from ‘NAB” telling me they have had a problem with their accounts and would like me to confirm my banking details. I don’t even bank with NAB.

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