Recently, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released a study in which they warned about a large surge in computer screen sharing scams in which the scammers convince their victims to allow remote access to their computers through programs such as LogMeIn or Team Viewer.  Once the scammer gains remote access to their victim’s computer, cell phone or other electronic device they can gain access to online banking and investment accounts of the victim as well as other personal information stored on the device.

During the pandemic many of us have been working remotely bringing about legitimate requests for screen sharing.  In addition, remote access software is used legitimately for Information Technology (IT) support to conveniently allow your IT person to remotely access your devices to correct problems and provide necessary updates.  Unfortunately, scammers are able to take advantage of many people being comfortable with screen sharing and remote access to lure people into authorizing access without thinking it is anything unusual.

The FCA study found that in many instances the victims were contacted by phone or social media by scammers posing as bank employees or investment advisors offering to provide necessary help.

TIPS

Neither your bank nor your investment advisors will ever ask you to download software to allow remote access to your computer, phone or other electronic device.  Everything your legitimate advisors would need would be already available on the banks or broker’s own website, computers or app.

Even if your Caller ID indicates that the call is from a legitimate source such as your bank, you can’t trust it to be accurate because by “spoofing” a scammer can manipulate your Caller ID to make the call appear to come from whomever they wish to appear as.

Giving remote access to someone who contacts you on social media is always a bad idea.  Again you can’t be sure who is really contacting you and people with legitimate need to access your computer such as your company’s IT department won’t contact you through social media.

The best thing you can do is to remember BS.  Be skeptical.  Allowing someone remote access to your computer is something that should only be done in the most limited situations and never before you have absolutely confirmed that the person asking for the remote access is legitimate and needs remote access.

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