#29 Synthetic Identity Theft
Identity theft normally involves using the actual name, Social Security number, and other personal data of a single victim. Synthetic identity theft, or synthetic identity fraud on the other hand, occurs when a criminal creates an identity instead of stealing an existing one.
How Synthetic identity theft works:
The foundation of a synthetic identity is personally identifiable information along with a compromised Social Security number that acts as the essential linchpin. This synthetic identity may be comprised of one person’s name, a second person’s Social Security number, a third person’s physical address, and some fabricated information such as a fictitious place of employment to put together an entirely new identity. This semblance of an identity — made from combining just enough real data and just a bit of fake data — allows fraudsters to apply for credit, make major purchases, and establish a convincing financial history over time.
Areas where Synthetic identity theft can be used:
Synthetic identities can also be used to obtain employment, to file fake tax returns, to get medical care, or for other fraudulent purposes. And if an identity thief uses your real Social Security number to create a fictitious identity, the crime could come back to haunt you, potentially affecting your credit score and making new credit lines difficult to open. Yes, the rest of the information may not be yours, but that is your Social Security number, an important piece of personally identifiable information, after all.
Who is at risk for synthetic ID theft?
The FBI says the fastest growing financial crime in the United States – synthetic identity theft targets some of society’s most vulnerable citizens: children and the elderly.
A child’s non-existent credit history gives thieves a clean slate to apply for credit cards and take out loans. Because parents are unlikely to monitor their child’s credit, fraudulent activity can go on for years without
detection. Fraudsters know this all too well— 0-7-year-olds account for 66% of all child synthetic identity theft. The younger the child, the longer their identity can be compromised. The child won’t know their identity was stolen until they apply for their first credit card or first loan. When their information is reviewed, they’re in for a shock when they discover that their credit has already been ruined.
The elderly and the homeless are also more vulnerable to synthetic identity theft. Because their Social Security numbers are somewhat inactive, it’s unlikely that they’ll notice suspicious activity under their name. In some cases, thieves will even steal Social Security numbers from the deceased in an attempt to remain completely undetected.
Realistically, however, everyone is at risk for synthetic identity theft.
Credit monitoring will not alert you to this type of identity theft.
LibertyID will take the following steps for/with their members:
- Contact impacted creditor/businesses where the victim’s information was misused and have the fraudulent accounts closed and note the presence of identity theft
- Place fraud alerts at all three credit reporting agencies
- Place credit freezes at all three credit reporting agencies, if appropriate
- File report with FTC
- If their identity theft involved the use of your driver’s license number, Social Security Number, or another type of identification, will we contact the relevant agencies to notify them of the theft
- Review credit reports with the victim to ensure there is no other types of fraud
- Provide single bureau credit monitoring with alerts for 12 months
- LibertyID will ensure that the restoration is completed with the victim
- Periodically contact the member throughout the 12 months following resolution of their ID theft recovery case, if warranted