Calgary, AB,

Calgary police warn of account takeover fraud amid national Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and police are warning Calgarians about a global trend when it comes to unauthorized activity for various online accounts.

Account takeover fraud can happen to businesses and individuals who experience their online accounts being fraudulently operated by an unknown person.

How it works

Account takeover is a type of identity theft where fraudsters gain unauthorized access to an online account and take control of it. This includes changing account information such as login credentials and personal information while using the account in the rightful owner’s name to make unauthorized transactions or engage in fraudulent activity.

“Fraudsters use a variety of clever tactics in account takeovers such as email phishing, remotely installing malware or various types of scams to trick users into giving out their login credentials or other personal information,” says Acting Staff Sergeant Ryan Nolan of the Calgary Police Service Cyber Forensics Unit. “This is something that we believe is underreported because people may not be aware it is even happening. While we don’t have a massive increase in local reports at this time, we feel it’s important to educate Calgarians about this steady trend, and hopefully help prevent account takeovers from happening.”

Most common types of online accounts to attack:

  • Online banking
  • Credit card accounts
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Gaming and entertainment accounts

The impact

Account takeovers can have a devastating impact for both businesses and citizens, including financial loss, compromised personal information and reputational damage. For businesses, a successful account takeover can also result in having to provide compensation to customers who may be affected.

The Calgary Police Service reminds citizens to:

·         Pay attention to login alerts and activity: If you receive notifications of unauthorized or failed login attempts, change your password immediately and examine transaction activity.

·         Limit access to accounts: Ensure those who have access to accounts are the only ones who require access, as opposed to having widespread access.

·         Monitor changes in account details: If there are unusual changes to email addresses, phone numbers or names, it could be a red flag.

·         Review transaction history: High volumes of purchases from new or unusual locations can indicate unauthorized activity.

·         Verify the legitimacy of requests: Review phone calls, emails, text messages and other forms of online communication to ensure the authenticity of the sender. Confirm requests by calling the official contact number yourself instead of clicking on unverified links. This may take a few minutes, but it could save you thousands.

·         If you suspect you are a victim of an account takeover, report it immediately. Alerting local law enforcement and financial institutions is key so that action can be taken quickly to prevent further fraudulent activity.  

The Calgary Police Service encourages anyone who has suffered a financial loss as a result of fraud to report it to police by calling the non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

If you have received a fraudulent text message, email or phone call but have not sustained a financial loss, please report it to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:

TALK: 1-800-222-8477
APP: P3 Tips