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The FCA are warning people about a significant rise in screen sharing scams. Fraudsters are posing as investment advisors and encouraging individuals to share their devices and enable remote access. Once the device is in the control of the fraudster, they have access to your personal information and potentially your bank accounts.
Screen sharing has become part of normal life in recent years, as people have been working from home and meeting on Zoom or Teams, or meeting with loved ones virtually. However, the scammers are taking advantage of that familiarity and encouraging their victims to go a step further and grant them remote access, under the guise of helping with a particular problem or to help the victim setup a financial product.
According to the FCA there have been 2,100 cases reported since July 2020, with more than £25m stolen since January 2021. One victim had lost £48,000 and the scammers had taken out a further £40,000 of loans in her name.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement at the FCA, said: "Investment scams can happen over many months, but sharing your screen without making the proper checks can change everything in an instant."
If scammers gain control of your computer, it gives them "access to your sensitive banking and investment information, the freedom to browse at their leisure, and the ability to take whatever details they want", Mr Steward adds.
Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at consumer watchdog Which?, said: "Screen-sharing scams are often incredibly sophisticated and, as the FCA rightly recognises, even the most experienced investors can be taken in by these fraudsters.
"If you have shared your screen with a scammer, try to take back control of your device by using the disconnect button, enabling you to end the session.
"As a precaution, you can turn off wi-fi at the router or unplug the network cable to fully disconnect from any external connection."
If you need any further advice or guidance relating to this article, go to the FCA’s ScamSmart Website.