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How to avoid screen sharing scams
© Roman Volskiy | Dreamstime.com
Security & privacy

This screen-sharing scam can have devastating consequences

Hackers are always coming up with new ways to get your information. You may think you can spot a scam or hack at first glance, but don’t be so sure.

Cybercriminals can hide malicious code inside apps to steal data and take control of mobile phones. Security researchers recently uncovered an updated banking Trojan embedded in Android apps downloaded more than 50,000 times. Tap or click here for our report.

Many apps and programs have functions to allow you to share your screen with others, which has become especially popular since the onset of the pandemic. This can be useful during tech support calls or when you want to show someone how to accomplish a task. Unfortunately, this gives hackers another way to steal your information or take control of your device.

Be careful what you share

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates the financial services industry in the U.K., is warning about investment scams involving screen sharing. The FCA has identified 2,142 such cases since July 2020, with more than $30 million lost to scammers between Jan. 1, 2021, and March 31 this year.

The FCA details one case in which 59-year-old Angela Underhill clicked on an ad for Bitcoin and got a call from people claiming to be financial advisers. They asked her to download the AnyDesk remote desktop app so they could help her with her first investment.

With access to her computer, the crooks could view her banking details and pensions and apply for loans on her behalf. They made away with nearly $60,000. The FCA says that scammers have used various platforms with screen-sharing functions, including Teams, TeamViewer and Zoom to target victims.

The FCA’s Warning List shows firms that are not authorized or registered by the FCA and are known to be running scams.

It can happen anywhere

Though the research from the FCA pertains to cases in the U.K., scams don’t often stay isolated in one part of the world for very long. You need to be vigilant of all types of scams, no matter where you are.

Tech support scams commonly use screen sharing to take control of your device. Tap or click here for seven tech support scams to watch out for.

There are steps you can take to avoid falling victim to these types of scams:

  • Before sharing your screen, close or hide any documents, browser windows or other files you don’t want others to see.
  • If you get an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming that there’s a problem on your device, hang up.
  • If you get a popup message saying there’s a problem with your computer that includes a phone number, don’t call it.
  • Don’t click on any ads for tech support.
  • If you need help, contact a company you trust. Go directly to the company’s website to get its contact information.
  • An actual tech support staffer will never ask for your personal or financial information.
  • Report scams and suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Keep reading

8 signs that your computer has been hacked

How to know if hackers are in your phone

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