LUBBOCK, Texas — There has been a new scam going around that has already been reported to several local banks in our community. PlainsCapital and City Bank said they have seen a big uptick in remote access takeover scams.

“They’ve put together very smart plans to prey on people who are vulnerable,” said John Thomas, Managing Director of IT at Texas Tech.

Scammers will contact customers saying there is a problem only they can fix. They will manipulate customers into downloading software that allows them to remotely control the device.

“They’ll tell you that, ‘Hey, there’s a problem with your account,” said Darrell Bateman, City Bank’s Chief Information Security Officer. “Or maybe there’s a problem with your computer, and we’re here to help you fix it.”

Hackers will contact customers through a phone call or through email pretending to be a software company or bank. From there, they will manipulate customers into handing them control of your device — giving them access to everything on it.

“They direct you to download some software, or direct you to a website where you’re actually downloading remote access software,” said Bateman. 

Once they have remote control of the device, scammers will appear as if they are fixing a problem with either your bank account or your computer that does not exist.

“They have a story that’s very compelling, that will say, you know, we’ve identified an issue with your computer, no need to do anything other than to allow us to have access,” said Thomas.

Scammers will then ask customers to log in to their bank accounts to give you a refund or credit for something, or asking you to pay for the service.

“What the fraudster will do is transfer money into the customer’s account that they see as a refund,” said Denise Owens, Frauds Manager at PlainsCapital Bank.

To manipulate customers into willingly giving them more money, the scammer will say they over refunded them. However, the money they initially transferred was most likely fraudulent. 

“They’ll get the customer to wire that money out,” said Owens. “The problem is, the funds that the fraudster moves into the account are fraudulent funds.”

It’s extremely important for the public to always have their guard up and to know that banks will never ask you for personal bank account information. Willingly giving it away makes it especially difficult for the bank to recover any lost funds.

“Anytime you give someone access to your online banking through your computer, there’s no way for the bank to be able to tell that’s not you,” said Owens. “It has your IP address, they have all of your credentials. So it’s very difficult for the bank to identify that upfront.” 

If you’ve been a victim – change your passwords immediately, so they can’t continue to access your information. Any time you get a call or message from someone claiming to be part of your bank, it’s a good idea to call the bank’s customer service line to be sure you’re not falling victim to a scam.

It’s also helpful to report any attempted scams to the Federal Trade Commission so they can track the fraudulent activity.