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Identity Theft, Fraud and Other Protection Measures
“Corporate account takeover” is when cyber criminals gain control of a business’ bank account by stealing the business’ valid online banking credentials. Although there are several methods being employed to steal credentials, the most prevalent involves malware that infects a business’ computer workstations and laptops.
A business can become infected with malware via infected documents attached to an email or a link contained within an email that connects to an infected website. In addition, malware can be downloaded to users’ workstations and laptops by visiting legitimate websites – especially social networking sites – and clicking on the documents, videos, or photos posted there. This malware can also spread across a business’ internal network.
The malware installs key logging software on the computer, which allows the perpetrator to capture a user’s credentials as they are entered at the financial institution’s website. Sophisticated versions of this malware can even capture token-generated passwords, alter the display of the financial institution’s website to the user, and/or display a fake Web page indicating that the financial institution’s website is down. In this last case, the perpetrator can access the business’ account online without the possibility that the real user will log in to the website.
Once installed, the malware provides the information that enables the cyber criminals to impersonate the business in online banking sessions. To the financial institution, the credentials look just like the legitimate user. The perpetrator has access to and can review the account details of the business, including account activity and patterns and electronic (ACH) and wire transfer origination parameters (such as file size, frequency limits, and Standard Entry Class (SEC) Codes).
Cyber criminals use the sessions to initiate funds transfers, by ACH or wire transfer, to the bank accounts of associates within the U.S. These accounts may be newly opened by accomplices or unwitting “money mules” for the express purpose of receiving and laundering these funds. A “money mule” is a person who transfers stolen money or merchandise from one country to another, either in person, through a courier service, or electronically. The term is commonly used to describe online scams that prey on victims who are unaware that the money or merchandise they are transferring is stolen. In these scams, the stolen money or merchandise is transferred from the victim’s country to the scam operator’s country. The accomplices or mules withdraw the entire balance shortly after receiving the money, and then send the funds overseas via over-the-counter wire transfer or other common money transfer services.
Cyber criminals appear to be targeting businesses, as well as government agencies and nonprofits, for several reasons:
The Federal Trade Commission has provided important information on identity theft. Visit the Federal Trade Commission site now to read about identity theft and how you can protect your sensitive information.(Opens in a new window)
Contact the fraud units of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report to help prevent new fraudulent accounts from being opened. Keep track of when it expires so you can ask for another one, if necessary. However, not all creditors check your credit report before issuing a new account.
As an ID fraud victim, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. Also, ask the agencies for a copy of your credit report every three months once you have become a victim. This can help determine how many and which accounts listed are fraudulent. You can also identify the existing accounts that have been stolen.
Equifax 1-800-525-6285 | www.equifax.com (Opens in a new window)
Experian 1-888-397-3742 | www.experian.com (Opens in a new window)
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 | www.transunion.com (Opens in a new window)
The USSS is a federal agency that investigates financial crimes. Generally, the USSS will intervene only when the dollar amount of the crime is high. However, they should still be notified in case it is part of a larger fraud ring.
U.S. Secret Service
Contact your local field office. (Opens in a new window)
www.secretservice.gov/contact/field-offices (Opens in a new window)
If you detect fraudulent use of your social security number, report it to the SSA. The SSA does not generally act unless there is a high dollar amount, workplace impersonation or crimes committed in your name. They will only change your SSN if you fit their fraud victim criteria.
Social Security Administration6401 Security BoulevardBaltimore, MD 21235
1-800-269-0271 (Social Security Administration fraud hotline)
www.ssa.gov (Opens in a new window)