Identity Theft vs Account Takeover: What’s the Difference?

How often do you go to the bank these days? Or when was the last time you signed a contract with both parties present?

In our heavily digitalized world, almost everything can be done online. It’s more convenient, it requires less human interaction, and it’s a safe and quick way to solve problems that usually take a lot of time without doing anything actually productive.

If we add the stress of the pandemic to the equation, we no longer have to wonder why the e-commerce sector made a huge jump from 16% in 2019 to 19% in 2020. While there are a lot of positive aspects to this situation, there’s also a worrying trend that starts to show its devastating effects. Cybercriminals find the online world extremely suitable for their illicit activities because without face-to-face iterations, it’s easier to assume someone else’s identity or break into low-security devices or accounts.

ID theft and Account Takeover (AOT) are, sadly, widespread in our high-tech world. The sadder part is that victims are usually the last to know about these crimes even though they are the most impacted. That’s why today we are going to take a look into ID theft and AOT to get a better understand of what each crime involves and how to increase your protection.

ID Theft – What Is & How to Prevent It

The standard definition of Identity Theft speaks of a person who uses the personal details of another person for various activities. However, ID theft is not necessarily a crime that needs advanced technological development.

Back in the days when computers were not a thing, people used to search the trash or raid mail boxes looking for checks, documents containing personal information, or any other papers that could be put to good use.

Nowadays, it’s enough to put together a contact form and find a way to ask people to fill it in with their personal details without raising too much suspicion. Still, today’s internet users are a bit more aware of cyberthreats, so it gets increasingly more difficult to full people with a simple scam. Yet, attacks like data leaks, phishing, or ransomware usually yield impressive results for fraudsters. Plus, many people don’t realize just how much they reveal about themselves on various social media channels.


What Happens if My ID is Stolen?

If an ill-intended actor can use your ID data undetected, they can do a lot of damage. From taking bank loans in your name to submitting fraudulous tax return claims with the IRS, things can get pretty ugly. Plus, if they commit a crime while under your name and you can’t prove your innocence, you risk taking the blame and the punishment.

To prevent such a grim future, it’s important to be vigilant when asked to submit your personal data online. Also, fraud protection services can help you avoid online frauds using a monitoring system that keeps you up to date whenever they detect something out of the ordinary.

AOT – What Is & How to Prevent It

AOT is when someone gets hold of your login information for a banking account, website, email, or payment platform. Once they have your credentials, they will change the password and recovery methods to block your access to the account.

Once this happens, they can use that account as they like since it takes time to regain control (if this option is still even possible). Plus, the people behind this type of attack are rarely found and brought to justice.

ID Theft vs AOT

Both ID theft and AOT involve someone stealing personal information and using them to commit frauds. However, AOT is limited to account takeover, while ID theft involves your whole life. When your identity is stolen, you can lose control over your entire life.

Furthermore, both AOT and ID theft are frustrating events loaded with anxiety and stress for the victims. That’s why it’s important to learn how to stay safe online and how to recognize suspicious activities.

However, the blame is not always on the individual (even though big companies would like you to believe it is). Major data leaks, from various big companies usually contain tons of sensitive information that lead to a wave of ID thefts and other similar crimes. Therefore, the best way to stay safe is to make sure your passwords, devices, and software tools are always up to date.