Types of Identity Theft: Account Takeover

As our society continues to become larger, the risk of identity theft also increases. This is because where once everyone knew everyone else and rarely traveled far from where they were born, now people rarely know their banker on a personal level. As a result, these types of institutions rely upon token identifiers, such as drivers licenses and social security numbers, which opens the door to identity theft.

With identity theft on the rise, it is very important to understand how it works, who perpetrates it, and how it can be prevented, or at the very least, the risk reduced. There are three basic types of identity theft, including account takeover, application fraud, and wholesale assumption of identity.

Account Takeover

Account takeover, or account hijacking, has become one of the easiest and most common types of identity theft to preform. At its most basic, the criminal simply gets a copy of someones credit card number, expiration date, and full name, using this to make fraudulent purchases. This is referred to as card not present fraud, because the purchases are made online, over the phone, or by mail. It is also possible to clone a credit card, using a semi-sophisticated printing procedure, which creates a realistic looking fake credit card.

More advanced account takeover involves actually getting someones bank login information or stealing their mail, to receive legitimate copies of credit cards or open new lines of credit. In the case of knowing someones bank login information, it is possible to change their address and request a new credit card, among many other things.

In most cases the criminal that attempts this type of identity theft will get caught, simply because it is hard to do without leaving a paper trail, although this is not always the case.

Some Advantages of Account Takeover

  • Since the account is already set up, it is not necessary to complete any applications at the bank.
  • If the account that has been compromised has a high credit rating, it is usually possible to do a good deal of damage before it is caught, with the average in the US being around $2,000.
  • Also, since the criminal rarely knows the person, there is no direct link to the victim.

Some disadvantages of Account Takeover

  • The criminal rarely knows the credit rating or limits on the account, so it could very well end up being a very small haul for the risk.
  • Since the account is being used by the victim simultaneously, it is more likely to be discovered.
  • Since each instance usually doesn't last for very long, it is necessary to preform many account takeovers. As a result, there are many more chances to be caught.
  • The last disadvantage also has some faults with basic human nature, which is that in each instance the criminal usually uses similar information or tactics, creating a pattern that is easier to spot.

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