The concept of identity theft is probably not new to you – and it’s certainly not new to the millions of Americans who have had their identities stolen. However, the ways thieves violate our privacy and use our identities can vary in several different ways. One of the most prevalent types of ID fraud is called synthetic identity theft, with criminals taking outwards of $855 million in auto, credit card, retail credit card and personal loans using stolen personally identifiable information (PII).
The word “synthetic” implies that something is fake, but there is nothing phony about the way cyber hackers kidnap identities – or rather, parts of identities. The synthetic reference for this type of identity theft ties into how the thieves use your personal information. Essentially, thieves don’t set out to steal an individual’s entire identity…just bits and pieces. Your real Social Security number and birthday could be combined with a fake address and driver’s license number. Thus creating a “synthetic” identity that doesn’t match your exact identity, but is nonetheless a problem because of its ties to your personal information.
Confused yet? It can be a lot to wrap your mind around. To break it down a little more, here are 3 important things you should know about synthetic identity theft:
3 Facts About Synthetic Identity Theft
- Synthetic ID theft is often harder to crack down on than true identity theft (when a person’s full identity is stolen). Since a synthetic identity is comprised of both real and fake information, it is challenging to zero in on the real culprit.
- Surpassing true identity theft, synthetic identity fraud is the fastest-growing type of ID fraud in the U.S. and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that it accounts for up to 85% of all identity fraud.
- One reason synthetic identity fraud can go undetected for so long is that credit bureaus are accustomed to seeing small inaccuracies with names. These mistakes are usually tied to typos or normal name changes (like when someone gets married), so when they come across something a little “iffy,” they don’t always connect it to identity theft right away.
One of the more alarming facts about synthetic identity theft is that cybercriminals are particularly fond of targeting the identities of children. Like adults, kids have Social Security numbers; they do not, however, have credit cards or debt until they are at least 18 years old. Synthetic identity thieves can do a lot of damage to a child’s credit history long before they are even legally eligible to obtain credit.
How to Fight Back Against Synthetic Identity Theft
When it comes to synthetic ID theft, vigilance is key. However, being on alert 24/7 is impossible and even if you make it a point to stay on top of your credit, you may not be monitoring every data source that thieves may use to steal your identity. For a low monthly cost, IdentityForce delivers the best identity theft protection for you and identity theft protection specifically for your children. Start your free 30-day trial of IdentityForce today!