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CATO - Corporate Account Takeover

Corporate Account Takeover is a form of business identity theft where cyber thieves gain control of a business’ bank account by stealing employee passwords and other valid credentials. Thieves can then initiate fraudulent wire and ACH transactions to accounts controlled by the thieves. For more information on this growing security risk, click here!

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Think of how many times a day you share your personal information. You may write a check at the local grocery store, apply for a credit card, make a call on your cell phone, charge tickets to a basketball game, mail your tax return or buy airline tickets on the Internet. 

With each transaction, you share your personal information: your bank and credit card account numbers, your income, your social security number, your name, address and phone number. 

In 1998, Congress passed a law making identity theft a federal crime. The U.S. Secret Service, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigate violations of the Act. Persons accused of identity theft are prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

Wisconsin also has passed legislation making identity theft a felony, and criminals here have been convicted of the crime.

Consumer complaints about identity theft continue to grow. More than 40 percent of all complaints filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year were for identity theft. 

Unless you live your life in a bubble, you can't prevent the stealing of your personal information, but you can minimize the risks of this crime happening to you by following these suggestions:

  • Never divulge information about your social security number, credit card number, account passwords and other personal information unless you initiate contact with a person or company you know and trust.
  • Don't carry around more checks, credit cards and other bank items than you really need. Don't carry your social security number in your wallet, and be sure to pick passwords and PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) that will be tough for someone to figure out. Don't write your social security number on your check.
  • Protect your incoming and outgoing mail, especially envelopes that may contain checks, credit card applications or other information valuable to a fraud artist. Deposit outgoing mail, especially something containing personal financial information in the official Post Office collection boxes, hand it to the mail carrier, or take it to the local post office instead of leaving it in your home mailbox.
  • Before discarding credit card applications, canceled checks, bank statements or other information useful to an identity thief, tear them up as best you can, preferably by using a paper shredder.
  • Safely store extra checks, credit cards and documents that list your social security number.
  • Contact your financial institution immediately if you lose your checkbook or bank credit card, if there is a discrepancy in your records, or if you notice something suspicious such as a missing payment or unauthorized withdrawals.
  • If your credit card bill doesn't arrive on time, contact your credit card company. This could be a sign that someone has stolen your account information, changed your address and is making large charges in your name from another location.
  • Once a year check your credit record with the three major credit bureaus. To order your report, call the following toll-free numbers; Equifax: 800-685-1111 Experian: 888-397-3742 Trans Union: 800-888-4213

If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following steps:

  • Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and request a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and no new credit be granted without your approval.
  • Close any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened.
  • File a local police report and get a copy of the report to your bank, credit card company or others that may need proof of the crime.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, it can assist victims by providing information to help resolve problems that can result from identity theft. Should you find yourself a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by calling toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). 

Most of us assume that thieves are only interested in the cash in our wallet or purse, when in many cases, they are more interested in access to sensitive information that can be used to steal our identity. Use caution and don't be the next victim of identity theft or other financial fraud.

Types of Scams

Tech Support Scam
This scam typically begins with a phone call prompting you to speak to an Amazon representative. The fraudster will tell you that you have unauthorized transactions on your Amazon account and ask if you have a laptop or a PC to get a refund. The fraudster will ask to take over your computer via a screen-sharing or other “support” tool, accessing your online banking account to transfer funds from your savings to checking account and then request funds via Zelle®, wire, or gift cards for payment sent to them.

Avoid accepting unanticipated calls from anyone claiming to be from Amazon or any other business, and never allow a third party to share your screen or control your computer unless you are going through a known, secure channel initiated by you. Be particularly alert for any business or individual that requests payment or refund via nontraditional methods. Call the business yourself to validate the information and never provide your banking credentials to anyone. 

Click Here Scam
You receive an email message that used one of these, or similar statements:

  • We've noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
  • Please verify your bank account or debit card number
  • Confirm your personal information so we may process your order/refund
  • We're having trouble with your current billing, so please click here to make your payment
Don't click on a link that was sent to you. If you need to verify a billing issue, go to the original site and investigate from there. Have to say it again, avoid emails with attachments at all costs. 

Oops I Accidentally Sent You Money Scam
You receive a transfer on Venmo, Cash App, Zelle®, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay or a similar service from someone you don’t know. The amount of this transfer may vary, but will probably be a few hundred dollars. You’ll receive a message after the transfer claiming that it was sent by accident, and the sender will ask you to send the money back. You want to do the right thing so you refund them the “accidental” transfer amount, only to realize later you never received a transfer from them to begin with and now you’ve lost a few hundred dollars or more.

Don’t send it back - tell them to cancel it. If you send funds, they will cancel at their end and the funds you received are gone, but they have the money you “returned”.

Vishing and Phishing
Vishing is the scam practice of using the telephone to get illegal access to private financial information. Phishing is made possible by internet-telephone services which allow computer users to establish phone numbers without verification screening. A customer may receive a fraudulent email stating their online bank accounts have been disabled and asking the caller to dial the provided phone number instead of replying via email. On the call, an automated voice then prompts the caller to enter his/her personal information which goes directly to the vishing scam artist.

Phishing: Don't Take the Bait

Phishing is when you get emails, texts, or calls that seem to be from companies or people you know. But they're actually from scammers. They want you to click on a link or give personal information (like a password) so that they can steal your money or identity, and maybe get access to your computer.

The Bait
  • Scammers use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know.
  • They ask you to click on a link or give passwords or bank account numbers. If you click on the link, they can install programs that lock you out of your computer and can steal your personal information.
  • They pressure you to act now - or something bad will happen.

Avoid the Hook
Check it out.
  • Look up the website or phone number for the company or person who's contacting you.
  • Call that company or person directly. Use a number you know to be correct not the number in the email or text.
  • Tell them about the message you got.
Look for scam tip-offs.
  • You don't have an account with the company.
  • The message is missing your name or uses bad grammar and spelling.
  • The person asks for personal information, including passwords.
  • But note: some phishing schemes are sophisticated and look very real, so check it out and protect yourself.
Protect yourself.
  • Keep your computer security up to date and back up your data often.
  • Consider multi-factor authentication - a second step to verify who you are, like a text with a code - for accounts that support it.
  • Change any compromised passwords right away and don't use them for any other accounts.

Report Phishing
Report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

For more information, visit ftc.gov/phishing

Imposter Scams: Say No, Keep Your Dough

Imposter scams often begin with a call, text message, or email. The scams may vary, but work the same way - a scammer pretends to be someone you trust, often a government agent, family member, or someone who promises to fix your computer - to convince you to send them money or share personal information.

Scammers may ask you to wire money, put money on a gift card, or send cryptocurrency, knowing these types of payments can be hard to reverse.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost more than $667 million to imposter scams in 2019.

Learn to spot these scams and say no.

Recognize the Scam
You get a call, email or text message from someone claiming to be:

  • A FAMILY MEMBER (or someone acting for them), saying your relative is sick, has been arrested or is in serious trouble and needs money right away.
  • A COURT OFFICIAL, indicating that you failed to appear for jury duty and need to pay a fine or you will be arrested.
  • The POLICE, saying you'll be arrested, fined or deported if you don't pay taxes or some other debt right away.
  • From SOCIAL SECURITY, claiming that COVID-19-related office closures mean your benefits have been suspended.
  • From the IRS, saying you owe back taxes, there's a problem with your return or they need to verify information.
  • From your BANK, claiming they need to verify personal information before they can send you a new card.

Protect Yourself

  • Be Suspicious of any call from a government agency asking for money or information. Government agencies don't do that; scammers do.
  • Don't Trust Caller ID. Even if it might look like a real call, it can be faked.
  • Never pay with a gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. If someone tells you to pay this way, it's a scam.
  • Check with the real agency, person or company. Don't use the phone number they give you. Look it up yourself. Then call to find out if they're trying to reach you - and why.

Report and Share

Tell your bank and be sure to share these tips with friends and family.
Learn more at ftc.gov/scamalerts and aba.com/consumers.