An account take over attack is a type of identity theft that involves fraud on existing financial accounts. Account take overs occur, for example, when a criminal uses a stolen credit card number to make fraudulent purchases on an existing credit line. Account take overs are the more common type of identity theft.
An account take over occurs when a fraudster obtains an individual's personal information (account number and social security number usually suffice), and changes the official mailing address with the cardholder's financial institution (FI). Once accomplished, the fraudster has established a window of opportunity in which transactions are conducted without the victim's knowledge.