June 15, 2024

With an increase in technology support scams, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is cautioning residents against a new type, namely, remote access scams. This involves a fraudster trying to persuade you to allow them to control your computer or mobile phone remotely, giving them the ability to steal your private information and money.

Usually, the scam commences with an unexpected call from a person pretending to be a tech support specialist who informs you that your device is infected with malware. Alternatively, they might use an intimidating pop-up ad that warns you of an issue with your computer, providing a contact number for assistance. In some cases, these fraudsters might pretend to have funds to transfer to you, asking for remote access to your computer and your online banking details.

Should you be convinced to grant them this access, they will then request you to download a software program, such as AnyDesk, GoToAssist, LogMeIn, or TeamViewer. These programs allow another person to control your computer as though they’re physically there. Although these applications are commonly used for valid tech support and team collaboration, fraudsters have found ways to misuse them for criminal activities.

With such control, the scammer might install malware on your device, ask for your online banking credentials, request your passwords, and download your personal files. Do not follow their directions, even if they claim you owe them money for fixing an alleged issue. Be wary — you didn’t seek their “assistance.”

In response to this, adhere to these two straightforward principles:

Principle One: Never allow unknown individuals to access your devices remotely.

Legitimate tech support from businesses or government entities won’t reach out to you randomly, so any unsolicited support calls are fraudulent. Even if your caller ID shows a reputable source like Apple or Microsoft, be aware that scammers can easily disguise their actual identity and location.

Similarly, computer notifications asking you to contact a specific number are also scams. Authentic tech companies do not ask users to call them via security alerts. If you encounter such a pop-up, the optimal action is to turn off your computer. Upon restarting, the pop-up will have vanished.

Principle Two: Never reveal your online banking or any other passwords to anyone.

Your bank will never request your account number, social security number, name, address or password via email or text message. This information is asked only for identity verification when you initiate the contact. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a bank employee asking for this information, terminate the call and contact your bank directly to verify the request’s legitimacy.

If you’re a victim of a remote access scam, notify your bank immediately and file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.oregonconsumer.gov.

For further details on tech scams, visit https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection/phone-internet-tv/online-safety/.