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What is account takeover fraud?

Account takeover fraud (ATO) is when a fraudster gains illegitimate access to a genuine user's account with and aim to conduct fraudulent transactions or steal account credentials.

The affects of account takeover are far reaching, as criminals will often sell any account credentials they've obtained to other criminals on the dark web, extending the impact far beyond one organization. Alongside bank accounts, ATO affects multiple sectors with loyalty schemes a particularly popular target due to their poor security and high value.

Account takeover by numbers

In the US alone, 38% percent of consumers have experienced account takeover in the past two years.


US Credit card losses from ATO

Fraudulent transactions are the primary outcome of an account takeover attack.

As well as credit card fraud, a further $177m was lost from US debit cards due to fraudulent transactions.


Unspent loyalty points

Loyalty accounts are an easy and lucrative target

Often forgotten about and only protected by a password, loyalty schemes are a great source of income for fraudsters.


Avg. sale price of stolen bank account details

One account takeover attack fuels others

Account credentials are regularly sold on the dark web helping fuel further account takeover attacks through method such as credential stuffing and bot attacks.

Common ATO attack vectors

While account takeover fraud has been around as long as there have been online accounts, the range of tactics and methods is growing. As soon as one vector is blocked another quickly appears.

To get ahead of the fraudsters, you need a solution that counters the full range of threats.

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Social engineering

Fraudsters use techniques such as phishing and smishing to manipulate a victim into sharing account details, they will also convince victims to provide access directly to their account, often through remote access software.

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Credential stuffing and scripted attacks

Fraudsters regularly exploit the fact that passwords are re-used across multiple services. Using bots, they take lists of credentials from already compromised user accounts and automate inputting them into other online services until they gain access.

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SIM swap

SIM swap is where the victim's mobile number is reactivated to a SIM in the fraudsters possession. As a result, calls and texts to the victim’s number are routed to the fraudster’s phone, including SMS OTPs for banking transactions and second-factor authentication.

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Brute force

Bots run through thousands of password and account combinations until they find the correct one. Weak passwords using common phrases can make this a particularly easy route for scammers.

CS Big Data
Data breaches

Criminals can easily purchase account details on the dark web that have been acquired by data breaches or previous account takeover attacks.

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RATs (Remote Access Trojans)

Used across web and mobile devices, RATs are often mistakenly downloaded via SMS and email links, fake ads, or malicious apps, giving fraudsters remote access to customers’ devices.

How to detect account takeover

Account takeover is part of a complex web of attack vectors. To tackle account takeover organizations should look to positively identify legitimate customers instead of solely relying on individual fraud signals.

Layering multiple intelligence signals such as behavior, device, threat, and location creates a unique digital identity for your users – something a bad actor cannot replicate.

How to prevent account takeover

The first step is assessing for bad actors trying to hack or spoof a system to undermine its security.

Our threat detection solutions check for known vulnerabilities against multiple malware engines, ensuring the session is secure. We also flag risks to an individual session such as if a device is jailbroken, tampered with, or using an emulator.

How threat detection reduces account takeover

Our bot detection technology checks whether there is a bot active in the session. We identify behaviors that indicate that a bot attack is underway and flag it if so, allowing you to choose whether to end the session or to dynamically select the appropriate onward action within our Orchestration Layer.

Prevent bot attacks

We analyze more data signals across web and mobile than any other vendor. Combining device, location, and threat intelligence with our unique Muscle Memory Technology – the highest fidelity form of behavioral biometrics – we more accurately identify the individual and ensure only the legitimate user has access to their accounts.

Reduce account takeover with Callsign's Intelligence Engine

Our Orchestration Layer leap into action when a customer exhibits unusual activity. By inserting contextual questions into the customer journey, we provide a cognitive jolt to a user, giving organizations extra context to make risk-based decisions.

Callsign’s threat detection technology prevents remote access scams where a legitimate user’s session had been taken over by a RAT after login. Once this has been identified our system can step-up authentication or take another action in line with an organization’s policy.

See how dynamic interventions prevent account takeover

As new capabilities go into production, new policies and regulation come into force, and bad actors develop increasingly devious ways to bypass security measures.

Callsign’s Orchestration Layer gives you the control to change adapt with your business – in real-time. With our low code/no code orchestration layer you can design, control, and deploy personalized user journeys that are both seamless and secure. With Callsign you can take a proactive stance on ATO.

See how our Orchestration Layer can help you

Digital solution for a digital problem

Callsign delivers industry-leading AI combining our uniqueMuscle Memory Technology – the highest fidelity form of behavioral biometrics, location, threat and device analysis to passively confirm user identity.


increase in genuine user detection

Fewer false positives

We are the only solution to layer device, location, threat and behavioral intelligence across web and mobile to accurately identify genuine users.


reduction in step-ups

Offer seamless experiences

With our passive authentication, you'll be able to more accurately determine the genuine user.


authentication accuracy rate

Trust your genuine users

With our industry-leading Muscle Memory Technology you can trust your users are who they say they are.