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Protect Your Account from a Takeover

  • Security
  • July 2023
  • Premier America
Have you ever received an alert of suspicious activity on your bank account? If so, you may be a target of an account takeover.
 
Account takeover fraud is one of the most common and costly forms of identity theft, and it can happen in minutes! So, you may be asking yourself how do I keep my bank account safe? Read on to find out what an account takeover entails and how to defend against it.

What is an account takeover?

An account takeover, or ATO for short, is a form of identity theft, where a fraudster gains access to an account, and proceeds to steal the victim’s money or information for future scams. ATOs can target any account, including retail, email, or credit card accounts. Here’s what can happen in a bank account takeover:
 
Once inside the account, a fraudster may change account information and hijack the account by issuing a new debit card or rapidly transferring money out. If added security is in place, this bad actor may involve the victim – unknowingly – in helping them access funds and drain the account. That’s why it’s important to follow these tips to protect your account to spot and avoid a scam artist’s trap.

Tips to keep my bank account safe

1. Heed any data breach notice.

You’ve probably heard countless media stories about major data leaks. They help thieves obtain sensitive information to sell or use themselves. Often, they’ll employ “credential stuffing,” which uses bots to test stolen account credentials on a massive scale – at bank, retail, and other sites – hoping to exploit the fact that people frequently use the same login for multiple websites. If you receive a notice of a possible breach involving your account, change your password, and review all of your accounts just in case.
 
See tip number three about the frequency you should change your passwords.

2. Use strong and unique passwords.

We’re all guilty of reusing passwords, but we need better ways to keep our accounts safe. Use a password manager to create and store complex passwords for each account, and don’t auto-save them to your web browser.

3. Change passwords regularly, and enable two-factor authentication.

A recent report found that 70% of passwords compromised in the past are still being used today. Chances are, your login credentials are out there with someone. By changing passwords often (every 90 days) and adding two-step verification, you help keep past security breaches… in the past.

4. Ensure a secure connection and device.

When checking email or social media from a coffee shop or airport, avoid using public Wi-Fi. Instead, use your phone’s secure data connection or a virtual private network (VPN). This will help protect you from man-in-the-middle attacks, in which a scammer “listens in” on your keystrokes over an unsecured network in the hope of capturing login and other sensitive information. Also, be sure to keep all device security systems up to date.

5. Slow down and verify with your bank.

Even with the best bank security, you are the first line of defense against imposters posing as your bank. An urgent notice may prompt you to click on an email or text link. Doing so might download malware to capture your personal data and take you to a “look-alike” website log-in screen. Play it safe, and never click on unsolicited links or attachments.
 
Look out for pressure tactics. If you’re contacted about suspicious account activity, such as a large wire transfer, beware. It might be a fraudster in disguise. They may request information to verify your account, including a code sent to your phone. In reality, the culprit is trying to log into your account, triggering a two-factor authentication code. Once you provide it, the criminal can access and withdraw funds in minutes.
 
Before you engage in any call, email or text alert, slow down and independently verify it with your financial institution using reliable sources:
 
* Consult your debit card or bank statement for a trusted number to call, or
* Log into Online Banking directly, and check your messages from there.
 
The direct number for Premier America is 800-772-4000.

6. Monitor activity, and set up alerts.

Review your monthly statements regularly, and sign up to receive text alerts of unusual activity on your account. If a cybercriminal obtains your information, they may use it to access multiple accounts, open new lines of credit, or attempt other identity crimes. Also be sure to review your credit report annually for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Finally, to find out if your data was breached, run a free scan at IDStrong.com.
 
While Online Banking is a safe and secure tool that uses the latest bank security measures, cybercrime is always finding new ways to target consumers, which is why protecting your account starts with you. If you believe you’ve been a victim of an account takeover, contact your financial institution immediately and take steps to protect yourself and your account.

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