Beware the new breed of computer takeover scams

Experts are warning that fraudsters have developed a new set of scams that involve taking over your computer... and your bank details.

Love Money
Last updated: 23 January 2019 - 3.03pm

Fraudsters are impersonating an increasing number of companies including internet service providers and computer companies to try and gain access to people's computers, and ultimately their bank accounts.

A computer takeover scam has been doing the rounds for years now, where a scammer will call, claiming to be from Microsoft or a similarly well-known company, saying that your computer has been hit with a virus and that they can remove it for you remotely. When you let them take over your computer, they then try to glean as much personal information as possible in order to steal your identity, or threaten to erase the contents of the computer if you don’t give them money.

[Read more: Scam calls - how to tell if a call is from BT]

We take scams very seriously and want you to feel empowered to deal with them. So our new webpage includes advice on how to spot a scam call and provides an easy way to report them.

How the computer takeover scam works

According to Financial Fraud Action (FFA) UK, scammers are branching out by impersonating other firms or organisations, and offering to help with a slow computer or internet connection, or even claiming your information has been hacked.

Once the victim has handed over remote control of their computer, the fraudster will tell the victim that they may be entitled to compensation, or put them through to a supervisor who will appear to make an offer of compensation.

The scammer will say that they are sending the money and ask the victim to log into their bank account to check that it has arrived.

But the fraudsters will put up a fake screen to make it appear that the money has arrived. Meanwhile they will be working away in the background to empty your bank account.

They may ask for a bank passcode to be sent by text or generated by a card reader, which they will claim is necessary in order to process the refund. In reality, they need this to set themselves up as a new payee from your bank account and take your money.

BT will never call out of the blue and:

  • Tell you that your service has been hacked
  • Try to remotely take control of your device
  • Tell you we’ve found a problem with your computer
  • Ask you for an urgent payment and threaten to disconnect your service
  • Ask for payment details to activate Caller Display, Call Protect or any of our free services.

[Read more: Common online and email scams to beware of]

How to protect yourself

The FFA recommends following these steps to ensure you aren’t duped by this version of the scam:

  • Be wary of any unsolicited approaches by phone offering a refund;
  • Avoid letting someone you do not know have access to your computer, especially remotely;
  • Do not log onto your bank account while someone else has control of your computer;
  • Do not share one-time passcodes or card reader codes with anyone;
  • Do not share your Pin or online banking password, even by tapping them into a telephone keypad.

If you think you've recieved a scam call, stay calm and don’t give out any information. Remember you are in control, so if you’re not sure, just put down the phone.

Report the scam at where you can find out more information and advice 

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