You Can Stop Account Takeover Fraud by Recognizing Their Tricks and Taking a Few Steps

What is Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)?

Account Takeover Fraud occurs when criminals gather enough of your information to gain access to your account(s), usually online or over the phone, and in many cases then change essential information such as your login and/or mailing address. Then the criminal(s) may use that information to open additional accounts, request checks and withdraw funds. Another type occurs when they use skimmed card data to make purchases on your account.

This type of fraud leads to an essential question. How do they get the information they need to access your account? Some of the most common ways they collect data follow below:

  • Malware/Infection - Data can be collected from logins and forms if your device is infected.
  • Phishing by email, text or phone - You will always get requests for your information. Learn how to recognize the scams.
  • Card Skimmers - Card information can be captured and used to create fake cards. Learn more about skimmers.
  • Data Breach - Systems get hacked and data gets leaked. Unfortunately, that seems to have become very common. Chances are very good that your data has been captured from at least one breach or more. You can check to see if your information may have been exposed here.
  • Stealing Mail or Dumpster Diving - Mailboxes and trash cans can be more risky than you mail realize, especially if your accounts are listed.

Can Account Takeover Fraud Be Stopped?

While there will never be any sure-fire, 100% perfect solution, you can and should reduce the likelihood of account takeover. Raising awareness is the first step. You can follow the tips below to help keep yourself and others safer from account takeover. Chances are pretty good that you know someone who might be more susceptible to scams and unaware of the threats. Be sure to share this information with them.


Top Ways to Protect Yourself From Attempted Account Takeover:

  • Monitor Your Accounts - It's important to act early. If you are not tracking your accounts, how would you know?
    • Set up notifications to let you know if a balance goes above / below a set amount.
    • Check through online / mobile access or check your statements.
    • Track your credit score to see if any new accounts have been added.
  • Use Multi Factor Authentication - Whenever possible make sure you have a second device that will receive a code when a device is not recognized on your account.
    • It's best to have a security code sent to your phone.
    • If that's not available, then email is the next choice.
  • Guard Your Email - If your login credentials are captured or leaked from a data breach, you can be sure your email will be one of the first places they try. It's a treasure trove of information.
    • NEVER use the same password for your email that you use for any other logins.
    • Make your password complex and definitely use 2nd factor authentication that will send a code to your phone if the device trying to access your email is not recognized.
    • Consider changing your email password from time to time, just in case.
  • Protect Your Devices and Passwords - Don't let convenience replace safety.
    • Don't skip the protection software. It can detect and protect you from issues that you can't see.
    • Use passwords and screen locks. You need to make it as difficult as possible for someone to get to your information in case you lose your device.
    • Don't re-use passwords. Consider a password management tool for better security.

Top Ways to Recognize and Stop Account Takeover Scams:

  • Phone Scams - Many fraud scams still occur through phone calls. They try to catch you off-guard, usually with a high-pressure threat or offer. Learn more about how to recognize and defeat these calls.
    • Tell Them You'll Call Back - but use the number from the actual website. This can make a fraudster nervous and give away the scam.
    • Ask Tough Questions - the more questions, the better. They should be able to answer detailed questions if they actually know your account. But don't give them more information.
    • Don't Be Afraid to Hang Up - you can always call back to the real number
    • Do Your Research - if it sounds legit, offer to call back and research their claims
    • Be Skeptical - it's really ok to doubt the intent of the caller until you can establish it's real
  • Text Scams - You've seen these before. A text message arrives from a number you don't recognize for a service you didn't request. It could be an offer, a threat, fake IRS or just a mystery link. Learn more about how to recognize and defeat these text message scams.
    • Don't EVER click on the link - It may take you to site to capture your information, or possibly infect your device.
    • Don't call the number - Do you even know if that number is valid? Don't turn this into a phone scam.
    • Don't respond - You don't want them to know that the number is valid.
  • Email Scams - Similar to the text and phone scams, an email message arrives from a number you don't recognize for a service you didn't request. Sometimes the email is pretending to be from or for a well-known company. Learn more about how to recognize and defeat these email scams.
    • Don't EVER open an attachment from an unknown sender. The contents could infect your device.
    • Don't reply. They don't need to know that your email is valid.
    • Don't follow the links. Following a link can take you to a page that can infect your device.
  • Card Skimmer Scams - Skimmers are very different than the above mentioned scams. A skimmer is usually a piece of tech that sits between your card and the card slot at the gas station, ATM or store. They can be hard to spot, especially if they are been placed internally, but there are some clues. Learn more about card skimmers.
    • At gas stations and ATMs, give the card slot and keypad a jiggle or tug. A skimmer that sits on top may look the same but can be removed.
    • Use the EMV chip card slot instead of the card slider.
    • Use contactless payments like Apple Pay or Google Pay

What Should You Do If You Suspect Account Takeover?

  • If you suspect fraud on your Sharonview account, please let us know as quickly as possible.
  • Update passwords to make the criminals' data less effective.
  • Make sure your devices have been checked for viruses, trojans, keyloggers, etc.




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