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Account Takeover Fraud on the Rise

July 27, 2017

One of the more popular forms of fraud amongst malicious actors is account takeover fraud (ATO). With this particular form of fraud, a fraudster will use a piece of stolen personal information to gain access to the victim’s private account. Credit cards, bank profiles, brokerage accounts and store loyalty accounts can all be accessed by fraudsters via stolen account information, which ultimately ends up costing victims a lot of money.


What’s truly terrifying is how easy it is for fraudsters to steal personal information. These malicious actors all have various levels of talent, if you can call it that, meaning that no attack is the same as another. One hack could occur because a friend guesses another friend’s password, then uses those credentials to log on to Amazon and makes thousands of dollars worth of purchases—of course, we’re using the term “friend” a bit loosely here.

More sophisticated attacks by seasoned criminals may involve botnets performing high-volume, quick attacks. In other instances, malware can be put on a person’s mobile phone or computer to record which keys are hit when logging into an account. In this way, fraudsters can easily steal login credentials.

Account information can also be stolen through scam phone calls that manipulate victims in one way or another. Some scam calls claim that they need personal information because the victim has won a promotion, others claim to be from credit card companies investigating fraudulent charges (ironically enough), and others involve the fraudster pretending to be from the IRA and making threats against the victim. There are countless scams out there and most of them are pretty successful when it comes to stealing personal information.

ATO is becoming more and more common as the years go on because it’s so easy for fraudsters to steal information. And, once they have someone’s personal details, they can use that information to target the victim’s associates. For instance, if they steal email or social media credentials, they can then assume the identity of the victim and reach out to friends and family for their personal information.

Clearly, this is a problem that needs to be stopped. The only way to truly beat fraudsters is for carriers, financial institutions, credit card companies and individuals to work together by keeping fraud top of mind. If everyone is on the lookout for suspicious activity, they’ll be more likely to catch fraudsters in the act before it’s too late.



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