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What is Account Takeover Fraud and How Can I Protect My Business?

Fergal Parkinson

6 min read
A hooded individual working at a laptop is shown next to text discussing account takeover fraud protection in a business context by Fergal Parkinson.

Businesses are no strangers to the risks and challenges posed by fraudulent activities. One such threat that continues to cause problems for businesses is account takeover fraud.

Account takeover fraud occurs when a malicious individual gains unauthorised access to a customer’s account, exploiting it for personal gain. This can range from financial theft to the compromise of sensitive information.

In this blog, we will explore the risks and costs associated with account takeover fraud, discuss how businesses can protect themselves, and delve into its impact on financial services and eCommerce businesses.

The Risks and Costs of Account Takeover Fraud

The consequences of account takeover fraud can be severe for businesses. Not only does it erode customer trust, leading to reputational damage, but it also results in substantial financial losses.

In the first half of 2022, the occurrence of account takeover attacks increased dramatically by 131%.

Victims of account takeover fraud are likely to seek reimbursement, making businesses responsible for the financial implications.

Additionally, the costs associated with investigating and resolving cases of account takeover can be significant, requiring dedicated resources and expertise.

Protecting Your Business

Fortunately, there are several steps businesses can take to shield themselves from account takeover fraud:

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implementing MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring customers to provide multiple forms of verification, such as a password and a text message code, to access their accounts. This makes it harder for fraudsters to gain unauthorised access.

Utilising Mobile Number Intelligence: Mobile number intelligence is a powerful and reliable dataset which can be used to validate a user’s identity based on their mobile number and their live account information. Mobile data is authoritative and highly trusted around the world.

Monitoring and Analytics: Establish robust systems to monitor user behaviour and detect suspicious activity. Analysing patterns and anomalies can help identify potential fraudulent attempts and trigger appropriate measures to prevent or mitigate them.

Educate Customers: Provide educational resources and alerts to help customers identify and prevent fraud. Encourage them to create strong passwords, regularly update them, and avoid sharing personal information.

Regular Software Updates: Keep your systems and software up to date to patch any security vulnerabilities that malicious actors might exploit.

Secure Communication Channels: Utilise secure communication protocols and ensure that sensitive data is encrypted both in transit and at rest.

Fraud Detection Solutions: Consider investing in fraud detection tools and services that utilise advanced machine learning algorithms to proactively identify and prevent account takeover fraud.

How does Account Takeover Fraud Impact Banks and Financial Institutions?

Account takeover fraud poses a significant threat to banks and financial institutions, impacting both their customers and their own operations. Here are some key ways in which account takeover fraud affects these entities:

Financial Losses: Account takeover fraud often results in direct financial losses for banks and financial institutions. Fraudsters gain unauthorised access to customer accounts and exploit them for financial gain, such as making unauthorised transactions or transferring funds to fraudulent accounts.

Reputation Damage: Account takeover fraud can have serious implications for an institution’s reputation. When customers fall victim to fraud, their trust in the institution is eroded. This can lead to negative publicity, customer attrition, and difficulty in attracting new customers.

Legal and Regulatory Consequences: Banks and financial institutions are subject to stringent regulatory requirements for securing customer data and preventing fraud. In the event of an account takeover, if these institutions are found to be non-compliant, they may face legal repercussions, fines, and damage to their credibility.

Operational Disruption: Dealing with cases of fraud requires significant resources and may impact the normal operations of banks and financial institutions. Investigation, remediation, and customer support processes can be time-consuming and costly, diverting attention from other important activities.

Customer Trust and Loyalty: Account takeover fraud can shatter customer trust in banks and financial institutions. Customers may feel violated and lose confidence in their institution’s ability to safeguard their accounts and financial data. As a result, they may switch to competitors or reduce their engagement with the affected institution.

Increased Fraud Prevention Costs: In response to the growing threat of account takeover fraud, financial institutions must invest in robust fraud prevention measures. This includes implementing stronger authentication methods, enhancing security systems, and training staff to detect and respond to fraudulent activities. This however is a small price to pay compared with falling victim to fraud.

Impact on eCommerce Businesses

For eCommerce businesses, account takeover fraud poses a unique set of challenges. With the rise in online shopping, fraudsters exploit the vulnerabilities of weak security systems to gain unauthorised access to customer accounts.

This not only leads to financial losses for the business but also damages its reputation. eCommerce businesses must prioritise security measures such as regular security audits, enhanced encryption protocols, and strict password policies to protect customer accounts and minimise the risk of fraud.

How does Account Takeover Fraud Impact Insurance Companies?

Account takeover fraud poses unique challenges for insurance companies, as it not only impacts their customers but also affects the overall stability and profitability of their business. Here are some ways in which account takeover fraud impacts insurance companies:

Policy Fraud: Fraudsters can take over a legitimate policyholder’s account and modify policy details without their knowledge. This can result in fraudulent claims being filed or changes to coverage, leading to financial losses for the insurance company.

Unauthorised Access to Sensitive Information: Account takeover can grant criminals access to sensitive customer information, such as social security numbers, medical records, and financial data. This puts the insurance company at risk of legal and regulatory consequences, data breaches, and reputation damage.

Malicious Activity: Once inside a customer’s account, fraudsters may engage in various malicious activities, such as changing beneficiaries, diverting claim payments, or selling policy information on the black market. These actions not only result in direct financial losses but also damage the trust between the insurance company and its customers.

Increased Fraudulent Claims: Account takeover can lead to an increase in fraudulent claims being filed. Fraudsters may take advantage of stolen accounts to submit fabricated claims or inflate existing ones, resulting in inflated claim payouts for the insurance company.

Heightened Compliance and Regulatory Burdens: In response to the growing threat of account takeover fraud, insurance companies face increasing regulatory requirements to protect customer data and prevent fraudulent activities. Non-compliance can result in penalties and legal repercussions for the insurance company.

Protect Yourself from Account Takeover Fraud Today

In conclusion, account takeover fraud is a pressing issue that businesses must address to safeguard their customers and protect their own interests. By implementing robust security measures, educating customers, and utilising advanced fraud detection solutions, businesses can fortify their defence against account takeover fraud.

Taking proactive steps will not only save businesses from potential financial losses but also ensure their reputation remains intact in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats.

Last updated on July 9, 2024


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