How to protect your business from screen-sharing scams

Criminals are stealing money and personal information from businesses by convincing victims to allow them access to their devices.

This article was originally published on 24 April 2022. The article was republished on 8 February 2024.

A sophisticated screen-sharing scam is on the rise in the UK, leaving unsuspecting businesses highly vulnerable to the theft of money and valuable information.

Using this method, criminals contact a business owner or employee, either by phone, email or through social media, and often pose as a representative of a bank, an investment firm, or other financial institution. They may even claim to be a bank employee investigating a fraud.

Keep your business safe with our help

Find out more about how to protect your business from online scams and other cyber threats.

How to protect your business

  • Never download software if requested
  • Don’t be rushed into transferring money
  • Never share your PIN or login details
  • Be wary of unexpected calls
  • If you’re suspicious, hang up

Once the criminal has gained their victim’s trust, they will typically ask them to install a file which will help resolve an issue with their account or see how their ‘investment’ is performing. The victim who’s taken in by the caller, is often unaware of the risks, or true purpose behind this seemingly innocent request. 

The criminal’s real intent is to get the victim to install legitimate screen-sharing or remote access software. Screen sharing software, such as Zoom or Teams, can be used by criminals as an opportunity to observe sensitive or private information, like the inputting of passcodes to access online banking or stores.

The other scenario is when a victim installs remote access software, such as AnyDesk, TeamViewer or LogMeIn, commonly used by IT technicians to fix equipment remotely, and gives a stranger full control of a computer, laptop, or phone. 

At this point, the criminal has control of the victim’s computer and can access online bank accounts, emails, and business and personal information. They can also direct the victim to transfer money or carry out other online actions that could put them at risk.

This scam can only take place if you download the software and allow strangers access to your screen or device, so you should always be careful if someone asks you to share your screen or download screen-sharing software.

Safeguarding customers

We, along with other banks, have introduced limits on cryptocurrency transfers, as cryptocurrency scams have also become a common method of digital theft. We also have technology in place to detect anomalies, unusual and out-of-character behaviour. 

James Turley, of our Fraud Prevention team, says: “Keeping our customers safe and secure is one of our top priorities and we work tirelessly to safeguard our customers through education, identification of unusual behaviour, and signalling potential fraud.

“We would strongly recommend that you get in touch with your bank immediately if someone has intercepted your phone or computer to let them know this has happened. The bank can then take the necessary actions to protect your accounts.”

According to advice on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website, business owners should be wary if they’re contacted unexpectedly by a financial business, and should make sure they reply using the contact details on the organisation’s Financial Services Register

Also, the FCA advises checking its Warning List before investing with or dealing with any financial organisation. The list will identify whether the company is known to be operating without FCA authorisation.

Adds James: “Screen-sharing scams are a rising threat and are already responsible for UK businesses losing large amounts of money and data. It’s important that all businesses are aware of the risks and know how to protect themselves.” 

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

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