An account takeover scam is an extension of identity theft. It is said to happen when the financial accounts of the victim are illegitimately taken over by scammers. It is also called as facility takeover. It results from delaying the decision to report identity theft and the scammer is allowed to perpetrate the theft of personal identity information like date of birth, signatures, PINs, passwords and credit card numbers, to mention a few. The following undesirable consequences of account takeover will prove as a guideline to promptness in reporting identity theft.

Report identity theft when financial accounts are plundered

Scammers in possession of above mentioned information, hack into financial accounts of the victim and treat them as their own accounts, in the following manner:

  • Victims are coerced to download key stroke logger malware, with or without their knowledge. One this is done, it becomes easy to access the person’s internet banking accounts.
  • The scammer gets access to multiple accounts of the person, since people tend to use the same password or ones, with little variation of all of their bank accounts like savings bank account, investment accounts, mutual funds, overdraft accounts and also for accounts with different banks
  • When bank statements stop arriving, either by hard copy or by mail, it is time to get suspicious and probe
  • When small amounts of unauthorized transactions appear in bank statements, they may be the beginning of large-scale damage

Report identity theft to protect online retail shopping accounts

In the world of online shopping, many internet shoppers are given the option to save their card details on their shopping accounts with the e-tailer. Accounts takeover happens when:

  • Scammers hack into the accounts maintained. Since card details are available, (unfortunately  many websites still do not encrypt data), scammers manipulate the accounts
  • Failure to report identity theft can perpetrate the fraud, since the details may be used in many other platforms
  • The scammers get access to reward points stored, cash-backs etc. and they start maximizing their returns
  • They shop to get themselves credited with such reward points. It takes time for customers to detect and report identity theft and account takeover.

Proactive measures to be undertaken

To report identity theft is the most prudent option left with the victim. However the following precautionary measures must be undertaken on a regular basis, even when there is no impending threat of account takeover.

  • Ensure up to date version of anti-virus on computers and mobile phones, that can detect malware
  • Maintain secrecy and strength of passwords
  • Activate lock screen and PIN facility on mobile phone. It is advisable to sign out from social media accounts, emails and banking sessions, when work is completed.
  • For people who use same passwords for all accounts, in order to avoid the hassle of remembering them, password managers come to their aid for secure storage of passwords.
  • Laxity while checking monthly credit card bills and bank statements must be avoided
  • Do not respond to phishing mails
  • Educate on basic internet due diligence and scam prevention methods
  • Report identity theft, the moment you detect it
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