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Account Takeovers and Online Account Disappearance

Have you ever got online and noticed there is a post on your social media account some posts about a skincare product you’ve never heard of or logged into your online banking and can’t seem to find your checking account balance? It’s enough to drive you insane or at least make you feel like you’re getting there quickly. Rest assure, you are not alone. Sadly, these things happen all the time, through a type of fraud called Account Takeover.

Account Takeover Fraud (ATO) is when an someone who is not the owner, gains control of an online account and changes the credentials in order to maintain access to it. Similar to the days of the Roman Empire, this person, or people, come in, invade your life, take over your hard work and claim it for themselves. Only in today’s era, instead of swords and Trojan Horses, these invaders hid behind devices and bots to do their dirty work. They typically chip away at your accounts, starting with a separate account such an email or mobile device where temporary passwords and password change instructions can easily be rerouted.

Online account disappearance is a product of ATO fraud. This commonly occurs when a fraudster takes over an account such as online banking and an account “vanish” or is not longer accessible to you.  This can be caused by a data breach or your account has truly been drained, closed and no longer accessible to you. With online account disappearance, following the “money trail” is not always as easy but rest assure, they can be followed, and your money returned.

 

How do you reduce your risk?

 

  1. Change your passwords regularly and don’t use the same password for different accounts. We recommend changing them every 90 days.
  2. Know what you have. By constantly reviewing your accounts, both ones you use every day, such as your credit cards and checking account, along with your lesser traffic accounts such as savings or IRAs, you can stay aware and react quicker to any anomalies.
  3. Utilize security features such as secondary recovery emails and security questions. Financial institutions have a plethora of additional security tools available to help keep your money safe. Utilizing those features allows you may be a little more of a hassle to get to your money but remember if it’s easy for you, it can be just as easy for someone else. When it comes to security questions and answers, remember the more questions the better and try not use the same security questions for every account.
  4. See something, say something. Don’t take everything you see at face value. If your online account looks funny, investigate and do some research. Call the institution and notify them of your experience, there may be a logical explanation but there may not be also. Companies can’t always see what’s going on looking from the inside out, but with the help of consumers, companies are able to assess and eliminate a threat much faster.

 

Resources

 

20 Types of Identity Theft and Fraud

Account Takeover Fraud

Account Disappeared