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Taking action on remote access scams

3 November Stakeholder Email Image

Remote access scams are when a scammer calls and pretends to be a technical service provider or a staff member from a large telecommunications or computer company such as Telstra or the NBN.

The caller will claim there is a problem with your computer that can only be fixed if you provide them remote access to your device. Once granted, the caller then takes control of the computer and convinces the victim to open a banking session so they can “fix it” or “reimburse you”.

The goal is to confuse and manipulate vulnerable persons into sharing confidential data and access. According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, Australians over 65 had lodged over 5,595 reports in the calendar year ending September, resulting in the loss of $4.6 million. “COVID-19 has shown that anyone can be targeted by scam activity, but older Australians remain notably vulnerable,” says Leanne Vale, Director of Financial Crimes at COBA.

“The health crisis saw a large proportion of older people confined indoors where they were more likely to answer scam calls. For those without strong family, social and support networks, the isolation heightened their vulnerability.

“Scammers have sought to take advantage of those whose are entirely dependent on online shopping for essential items, such as groceries. The anxiety of losing internet access plays into the hands of callers who are skilled at manipulating emotions.”

“Older Australians should feel comfortable questioning any unsolicited phone calls. If you don’t know the caller and feel they are asking for personal information, just hang up straight away.”

The customer owned banking sector has always had strong connections to their customers. When the pandemic arrived, many COBA members checked in with customers who were at risk of vulnerability, whether picking up the phone or even paying a personal visit.

“COBA member organisations put their customers first by working systemically through staged change management, moving the elderly and vulnerable over to digital or telephone-assisted banking,” says Leanne. “For many it was the first time.”

The Financial Crimes Director also points to the actions of government in managing the risk to Australians. “The government’s Cybersecurity Strategy 2020 has taken a big step forward in taking the fight of cybercrime offshore. Standout initiatives include Telstra clean pipes and enacting technology to actively block malicious calls from scammers, as well as 24/7 support for Cyber incidents through ACSC centres.”


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Ashley Penny
Corporate Affairs Manager
P: +61 2 8035 8444
M: +61 431 932 950
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