account takeover - featured image

Account Takeover: What It Is and What You Can Do About It

Featured image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay 

Account takeover is a form of identity theft where a fraudster uses bots to gain financial access to customers’ account. The criminal can access a bank account, an eCommerce store, a gaming portal, or any other site. Here is what you can do about it.

Guard Against Credential Stuffing

Fraudsters who want to access other people’s accounts use either an account takeover technique or credential stuffing.

Fraudsters know that many account users use the same usernames and passwords at multiple websites. So they know if they gain access to some stolen credentials for one account, they can use the same credentials to access that individual’s other accounts.

Another technique used by the fraudsters is credential cracking. In this case, the fraudster tries as many options as possible, hoping that they will guess the right username and password.

Therefore, encourage customers to use unique usernames and passwords on their accounts with your business to discourage credential stuffing and credential cracking.

Learn to Detect a Possible Account Takeover

Use the following ways to help you detect account takeover fraud:

1. Multiple Changes on Account with Shared Details

Fraudsters may want to claim an account and possess it so that no one re-accesses it after them. To do that, they change the details of a legitimate account by altering some profile details. However, they don’t change most of the details but only one field. For example, they might change the telephone numbers or the customer’s address. This allows them to gain access to the account.

2. New Account Details, New Device, and New Delivery Address

  • You can detect an account under a takeover attack by noticing frequently updated customer details such as telephone numbers, emails, and even the name on the account.
  • Also, you could spot a customer’s account takeover by spotting a login from a new device within 24 hours after a change of address.
  • New orders with a new delivery address soon after a change of address and updated customer details can also signal fraud.

3. An Account with Multiple IP Addresses in Different Countries

A large number of different internet protocol (IP) addresses from different countries is also an indication of an account takeover attack. When fraudsters are making multiple login attempts, they do not know the location of each customer. This makes it hard for them to confirm that they are using the right IP address in every attempt.

4. Several Customer Detail Changes All Happening at Once

When you spot multiple account changes all taking place at once, this indicates that someone may be trying to take over a customer’s account. For instance, if criminals have been accessing accounts and suspect they are being noticed, they will change the account email addresses with a bulk action. These bulk account detail changes can lead to account takeovers. It is important to be on the alert and watch for such happenings in your organization.

5. The Ratio of Known to Unknown Device Models

Fraudsters like using software to hide the device they are using. That means the model they are using will come up as an unknown model. When you notice an account connected to more unknown devices than known ones, it is an alert that someone may be using another person’s account.

6. Multiple Accounts Linked to the Same Device

When you see that several accounts are linked to one device, it could be that one fraudster is accessing several accounts illegally. It should be an alert that something is not right.


If you notice two or more of these signs in one or more of your customers’ data, it is important to be on the alert. Investigate immediately, as all these are signs of fraudulent activities on customers’ accounts.

Follow These Practices to Prevent Account Takeover Activity

If businesses are to prevent account takeover, they must educate their employees on the possible risks and how to prevent them.

Instant Login Instead of Passwords to Protect Against Account Takeover

It is important for employees who are customer-facing to know how they can protect customers’ data and avoid account takeover practices by fraudsters. Best login practices are a great weapon to fight account takeover.

To prevent criminals from stealing passwords to access accounts, you can begin using authentication without password, or instant login. Customers can log in to their accounts using a unique link delivered to them through their email. Or they can use their phone numbers.

Multiple Authentications for Blocking Account Takeover

Another great way of adding a layer of protection during account login is by using multi-factor authentication. When you log in using multiple authentications, it is not easy for a criminal to guess your login credentials correctly. That will mean only the right cutover will access the correct account.

Risk-Based Authentication

Using risk-based authentication helps to protect the account, too. This is because alert employees can learn to notice and report any unusual login patterns. For instance, a login to the account using a different device sends a warning to the account holder that the account is being accessed using an unknown device. If the account holder is not attempting the login, they will get an alert in real time, allowing them to act quickly.

Security and Compliance

You can tailor the login radius to be compliant with global security standards and meet the regulatory requirements of your industry.

Consent Management

Consent management is another feature that can help prevent account takeover. It manages customers’ consent about data collection, storage, and communication. This means customers can change any existing permissions according to their needs.

Data Management and Account Takeover Prevention

Data management helps by tracking the individual profile from the activities of its admin account. It also helps enterprises manage millions of customers by performing actions to trigger verification requirements from customers.

Businesses can lose millions of dollars through account takeover. For example, financial losses, damaged brand image, and the loss of customer trust can be extremely damaging. This is why enterprises and their employees must understand the risks and know what they should do to prevent fraud.


Detection and Prevention Protect Your Business from Account Takeover

Businesses need to begin by training their employees to be aware of all the risks they face and how to prevent them. It is not easy to deal with brand image damage or the loss of millions of dollars. Prevention is the best way to protect your business.