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ACCC Issue Warning Against Internet Scams

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a fresh warning for Australian internet-users, cautioning them to watch out for dodgy pop-up windows claiming there are viruses or other seemingly nasty tech problems affecting their computer.

Known as remote access scams, the ACCC say these pop-up windows are often used as a ploy to get unsuspecting users to call a fake support line and then gain remote access to the victim’s computer.

“Once a scammer has remote access to your computer they can install malicious software, steal your personal data, con you into paying for a ‘service’ of your PC, or sell you unnecessary software to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“The pop-ups they create to lure people in look legitimate and are often made to imitate trusted websites for brands like Microsoft and Apple,” Rickard says.

Scamwatch has already received an average of 300 reports a month about this scam in 2017, with more than $41,000 lost in total. Australians aged 45+ are most likely to encounter and lose money to this scam.

“Your first and best line of defence against this scam is to not call that number and close the pop-up if possible,” she said.

The regular recommends affected users can close the pop up manually through Windows Task Manager (for PC users) or by using the Activity Monitor (for Mac users). If this fails to work, they can also shut down and restart their computer.

“If you think you’ve been caught by this scam, call your bank immediately and let them know what happened to protect your personal bank and/or credit card details. If your credit card was charged for sham software or servicing, you can try to get your money back.”

Ms Rickard also urged consumers to read the ACCC’s Little Black Book of Scams publication.

“A person’s best protection against scams is awareness and education. The Little Black Book of Scams contains important information about how to spot and avoid scams, to help keep you one step ahead of scammers,” Ms Rickard said.

“The ACCC recently updated this publication to include important new trends we’re seeing from scammers, including in regards to remote access scams.”

The Little Black Book of Scams is available via the ACCC’s own website.

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