Even if you’re a small, niche, low-profile business, it’s still smart to take the steps to safeguard your business against corporate account takeover. Corporate account takeover is a broad category of financial fraud, where online thieves use any number of methods, many rooted in deception, to gain access to your bank accounts. Even if you think your business flies under the radar, out of notice of cyber pirates, it’s safe to assume that anyone can be a target of online theft. Including you!

But the good news is, you can take the steps you need to protect your accounts and raise the odds in your favor.

If you suspect fraud on any Minnwest accounts, report it immediately. Call 888-616-2265 and one of our helpful bankers will help with next steps.

What is corporate account takeover?

Corporate account takeover (CATO) happens when online crooks gain access to your business information so they can help themselves to your money. These are just some of the actions crooks take that are considered corporate account takeover:

  • Transfer funds from your account to theirs
  • Create fake employees and add them to the payroll
  • Gain access to your customer payment information

How does corporate account takeover happen?


Malware is short for malicious software that’s designed to capture your login credentials so that cyberthieves can help themselves to your account. Usually, malware enters your company’s system through a phishing scheme. What they do is send an authentic-looking email that deceives you or an employee into clicking a link that downloads the malware.

Social engineering

The imposter dupes an employee — usually through an impersonation scam — into transferring or releasing funds into the fraudster’s account.

Business email compromise

The cyberthief gains access to email credentials — usually someone in upper management — and leverages this to craft a very authentic-looking request for funds. If doing so gives them access to the manager's schedule, they can even send a very tailored message.

And as you might imagine, the prevalence of remote working and less time working face to face has only added fuel to the problem. The year 2021 so far has shown an 87% increase in the instance of corporate account takeover, according to industry data.

How do you prevent corporate account takeover?

Because corporate account takeover can happen anytime, anywhere, it’s critical to take the extra steps to safeguard your account information.

Check your balances

Make it a habit to check your accounts on a regular basis. The sooner you can pick up on suspicious activity, the sooner you can put a stop to it — and experience less disruption to your business. When something looks off, follow up, because the sooner you catch the activity, the better.

Credit monitoring

Make sure you’re checking your company’s credit report, and create a process so it gets done. (Tip: Spread them out at regular intervals and set up reminders so it doesn’t get lost.)

Educate employees

While protected internet connections and security software can do a lot, employees are often the last line of defense to your accounts, and the bad actors know just how to exploit their instinct to help. Help your employees get to know the warning signs of a corporate account takeover. Help them become masters of recognizing phishing schemes and how to react. For money transfers and wires initiated by email, set up a two-factor authorization system to confirm no one’s being tricked. For example, all email requests can be followed up with a voice-to-voice verification where the requester provides a PIN.

Leverage your bank’s services

Get to know Minnwest Bank’s cash management tools to help you manage your money safely and efficiently. For example, Positive Pay establishes a verification system for every check your business writes, blocking forged checks from getting through. Talk to a cash management specialist to help your business run more efficiently and block unauthorized transactions.

Set up an appointment today with a cash management specialist at Minnwest Bank!

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