Account Takeover: A Big Headache for Consumers

Since the advent of credit card chip card technology has lowered the value of stealing a credit card number, scammers are moving on to other more profitable types of theft -account takeover. Also known as account hijacking, this form of fraud has reached an all-time high. Javelin Strategy & Research reported that in 2016, account takeover fraud was $2.3 billion worldwide and was up 61% from the previous year.

Account takeover fraud occurs when a victim’s account information is used by scammers to obtain products and services. Once accounts are hacked, identity thieves can use saved credit card information to open new accounts in the victim’s name and rack up fraudulent charges. Thieves are now targeting all types of accounts and locking consumers out by changing security questions and passwords. When a victim calls to try and get their account back, they sound suspicious because they no longer know the right password or answer to security questions.

To combat account takeover fraud, take the following tips into consideration:

  • Use a unique password for each important account. Use a different password for each of your important accounts, like your email, online banking accounts, and service provider. Using the same password for multiple accounts is dangerous. If one account is hacked then all of those accounts may be compromised.
  • Establish a password or PIN with your service provider. Have your provider require this passcode before authorizing any changes to your account.
  • Opt-in to two-factor authentication when available. Two factor authentication is a two –step login process that provides you with an extra layer of security. In addition to a password requirement, the user will be required to provide a piece of information only they have such as a text message or phone call with an additional code.
  • Review all your bills carefully. Give all your account statements more than a passing glance to catch any fraudulent charges immediately.
  • Consider getting a low-limit credit card for online purchases. If your account information is stolen, the thief will have a limited amount to spend on purchases. This will allow you to quickly catch the charges.
  • Don’t use public wi-fi to check sensitive accounts. Never assume a Wi-Fi hotspot is secure. Most public hotspots, such as airports, coffee shops, and hotels are not secure networks.

If you think your account or electronic device has been compromised, contact your credit card company and service provider immediately.

Source: NBC News and Javelin

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