Account takeover prevention: Tips for staying safe Identity theft and bank account takeover attempts are rising as fraudsters’ methods of compromising personal information have become more sophisticated. October 24, 2023 Most of us love the convenience of managing our finances online. Unfortunately, cybercriminals love it, too. Hackers and fraudsters work around the clock to gain access to your bank accounts. But you can take proactive steps toward account takeover prevention by shielding both your identity and your accounts. Here’s how to avoid phishing attempts and other scams. What is account takeover fraud? Account takeover happens when bad actors gain access to your personal information and/or login credentials to impersonate you via phone or your digital account profile. Cybercriminals have many ways of compromising data but often rely on nefarious techniques like phishing emails, phony phone calls (vishing), and smishing texts to trick you into providing the information to them yourself, believing you are interacting with a company you typically do business with. These fraudsters may also compromise login credentials from one online profile and use bots that make repeated attempts to log into other company websites, hoping to find an active account where you use the same user ID and password. Once they’re in, they use that access and can cause harm in many ways, including: Stealing money or shopping online Opening new bank/credit card/loan accounts in your name Adding someone as an authorized user Ordering new credit or debit cards Redeeming rewards points Changing your security preferences and contact information Selling your account access information and identity on the dark web Any of these can do immeasurable harm, so account takeover prevention is critical for your financial health. Your primary strategy against account takeover fraud is simple: Pay Attention… The sooner you catch an abnormality, the safer your accounts will be. How to tell if your account has been taken over Sometimes, it’s evident that your account has been taken over: a notable drop in your account balance, for example, or a wildly unusual transaction. Other times, though, it can be much tougher to notice. Signs that you’ve been a victim of account takeover fraud include: Transactions or transfers you don’t recognize Inability to log in to your account Emails about unauthorized access, personal info, or password changes Two-factor authentication codes you didn’t request Unfamiliar new accounts, credit cards, or loans on your credit report Account takeovers are a common type of identity theft, and it can take a lot of time to untangle all the fallout after one happens. That’s why it’s important to do everything possible to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. How to prevent account takeover fraud Your primary strategy against account takeover fraud is simple: Pay attention. Monitor your account regularly, and when something doesn’t look right, take immediate steps to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. The sooner you catch any abnormality, the safer your accounts will be. Many banks offer security tools to help you keep your account safe. For example, Discover® allows customers to use fingerprint or facial recognition at login for more secure account access on mobile devices (though this won’t guard against hacking attempts on your laptop or elsewhere). You can also set up security alerts that notify you immediately if your balance falls under a certain amount, a large withdrawal occurs, or any change to your contact or login information is made. You can take these additional account takeover prevention steps to add even more protection to your accounts: Be wary of emails or phone calls that prey on your emotions or demand an urgent response, especially if someone asks for personal information, a one-time code, or your login credentials. If you feel uneasy, you can always hang up and call the company directly. Don’t rely on caller ID, as sophisticated fraudsters can spoof phone numbers of reputable, trusted companies. Similarly, look out for email addresses that are off by a character or two. Use encryption software to keep the information you send and receive over the internet confidential and secure, and don’t use public Wi-Fi when accessing sensitive information (like your bank account). Create a strong, unique password for each account, and avoid using duplicate or similar passwords. Enroll in your bank’s fraud protection service and opt-in to all alerts. Discover offers free Online Privacy Protection that scans sites for personal information about you and helps you remove everything it finds. Keep your contact information current so your bank can contact you immediately in case of a suspected breach. Another critical piece of the account takeover prevention puzzle: Choose a trusted, secure bank like Discover that offers premium security features for every account. Discover offers proactive fraud monitoring, cutting-edge encryption technology, and free security tools to help prevent account takeover fraud. Breathe easier with secure banking and Online Privacy Protection. Open a Discover Checking Account. Articles may contain information from third-parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third-party or information. Share article on facebook. Share article on twitter. Share article on linked in. Share article on facebook. Share article on twitter. Share article on linked in.