Normally, people would never let a stranger use their compute as it would be easy for that stranger to steal your private files, your money or your identity. However, remote access scam preys on peoples greed, fear and their lack of knowledge of the technology making them more likely to commit the grave error of giving a scammer access to their device. Learning how to recognize these scams can help you avoid them.
How remote access scams work
In a remote access scam, a scammer attempts to pursuade you intogiving them the remote control over your personal device for eg it can be your Personal computer or your mobile device. This will allow the scammer to con money out of you and steal private information. Remote access scams are often related to UPI money transfer scams, KYC scams, Tech support scams and more.
This typically starts on the phone with either a cold call from a fake tech support specialist telling you that they are from a reputed organization like PayTm, PhonePay, Google, Amazon etc and informing you that you have an incomplete KYC, pending payment,an incomplete order from Amazon, or a scary looking pop ad on your device that says there’s a problem with your device and gives you a phone number to call for help.
They may also try to convince you to give them remote access by telling you they have money to give you, that they can only deliver by connecting to your computer. These type of remote access frauds are commonly known as Refund scams. Another recent refund scam includes asking you to display your online bank account, and putting a fake deposit on your account statement. The scammers then lead you to believe that they have made a typo on the fake refund issued and ask them to refund the extra amount.
Once the scammer gains access to your device, they’ll ask you to install a program such as TeamViewer, GoToAssist, LogMeIn, AnyDesk, which allows someone from another computer to operate your device as if they were sitting right infront of it. Normally these programs are used for legitimate tech support and worker collaboration purposes, but they can also be used by fraudsters for criminal purposes. While the scammer is connected to your device they will pull a high level confidence trick. As a part of this trick, they will make it seem like your device has some sort of problem or your email ID has been hacked by hackers etc, and that they are here to fix it, but in reality they are running harmless programs that look strange to most people.
While a scammer has remote access to your device, it is highly likely that they will install malware on your device.
A recent case ( Source: The Hindu)
In a recent account, a 34-year-old school teacher lost 2.34 lakh rupees to a remote access scam. The lady was taking online classes when she received a call. A caller ID app showed the number belonged to ‘Karan Srivastav KYC Center’ and the caller introduced himself with the same name. He called her to update the KYC of a Paytm account, and asked her to update her email address on the app. When she was unable to do so, he asked her to download Team Viewer quick support application and share an access code it provided.
She was then asked to make a transaction of ₹1, at which she tried to disconnect the call. The caller, however, said that this would mean the process would remain incomplete, and asked her to stay online and make sure that her phone screen does not go blank.
After 10 minutes on the call, the caller said the process was over and disconnected. Later, the teacher saw various OTPs and transaction messages on her phone and realized that the accused had made five transactions worth ₹1.45 lakh from her account.
“The applications the accused asked the woman to download were remote access applications, which enabled the conman to access the other person’s phone sitting anywhere in the world.
How to avoid remote access scams
Staying away from a remote access scam becomes esay when you know a few key facts.
- Companies like Paytm, Phonepay, Amazon, never cold call people, asking you to complete your KYC or any other incomplete documentation, so if you receive a call purporting to be from tech support of above organizations, it is almost definitely a scam, even if the caller id says otherwise.
Fraudsters ask users to install screen-sharing apps such as Screenshare, Anydesk, Teamviewer and use them to get access to bank credentials. These apps are not malware, but they do grant access of your mobile data to the third party.
Do not: Download third-party apps such as Screenshare, Anydesk, Teamviewer, AnyDesk to enable/receive payments.
Other things to keep in mind.
Fraudsters misuse the request feature on UPI by sending fake payment requests with messages like ‘Enter your UPI PIN to receive money, “Payment successful receive Rs. xxx” etc. You need to enter PIN only for sending money.
Do not: ‘Pay’ or enter your UPI pin to receive money. They will be persistent and will give numerous excuses but never give or enter your UPI PIN.
Fraudsters share a QR code over WhatsApp asking for the code to be scanned to receive money in their account. This QR code, a feature in some UPI apps, is in fact a collect request and scanning and entering your PIN is acceding to their request. Again you need to scan QR only to make payments.
Do not: Share card number, expiry date, PIN, OTP etc. with anyone.
- Never share your banking passwords with anyone or store them in your mobile handset.
- Never share your other sensitive financial details on call such as UPI PIN / MPIN, Debit / Credit Card, CVV, expiry date, OTP, ATM PIN, bank account details, etc.
- Never allow a stranger to guide you to install a mobile app through App Store / Play store, or instruct you to change a setting of your mobile.
- Never retrieve customer service numbers of various merchants / entities / banks etc. via Google search since they can be fake.
- Never forward any unsolicited SMS received on a request of so called representative from a tech company/ bank.
- Never carelessly share your private details such as mobile number, address, DOB, identity details, etc. on the social forums.