Remote access scams

Remote access scams try to convince you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem.

How this scam works

The scammer will phone you and pretend to be a staff member from a large telecommunications or computer company, such as Telstra, the NBN or Microsoft. Alternatively they may claim to be from a technical support service provider.

They will tell you that your computer has been sending error messages or that it has a virus. They may mention problems with your internet connection or your phone line and say this has affected your computer's recent performance. They may claim that your broadband connection has been hacked.

The caller will request remote access to your computer to ‘find out what the problem is’.

The scammer may try to talk you into buying unnecessary software or a service to ‘fix’ the computer, or they may ask you for your personal details and your bank or credit card details.

The scammer may initially sound professional and knowledgeable—however they will be very persistent and may become abusive if you don't do what they ask.

You don't have to be a Telstra or Microsoft customer to be called by these scammers. You don’t even have to own a computer!

Warning signs

  • You receive a phone call out of the blue and the caller claims to be from a large telecommunications or computer company, or a technical support service provider.
  • They tell you that your computer is experiencing technical problems and they need remote access to sort out the problem.
  • They ask you to buy software or sign up to a service to fix the computer.
  • They ask for your personal details and your bank or credit card details.
  • The caller is very persistent and may become abusive.

Protect yourself

  • Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
  • Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
  • If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer and remote access is requested – hang up – even if they mention a well-known company such as Telstra. Telstra does not request credit card details over the phone to fix computer or telephone problems, and is not affiliated with any companies that do.
  • Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government's Do Not Call Register. Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently.
  • Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Research first and only purchase software from a source that you know and trust.
  • If you have fallen victim to a scam or you receive a lot of unsolicited emails and phone calls consider changing your email address and phone numbers.

Have you been scammed?

If you have given remote access to your computer, or you fear that your computer has been hacked, seek help or advice from a qualified and reputable computer technician.

If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

We encourage you to report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This helps us to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.

We also provide guidance on protecting yourself from scams and where to get help.

Spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.

More information

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