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Criminal holding masks synthetic identity theft
Posted on July 20, 2020 by in Children & Families, Identity & Privacy, Personal, Scam Alerts

When you think of identity theft you probably imagine someone posing as you to open a line of credit or drain your bank account. You’re not wrong. However, this type of “true” identity theft accounts for a relatively small percentage of all incidents today. In fact, a much scarier type of fraud has taken over: synthetic identity theft.

What is Synthetic Identity Theft?

Synthetic identity theft happens when a criminal combines someone’s real Personally Identifiable Information (PII) with fake details to create an entirely new identity. For example, a Social Security number (SSN) could be combined with a fake name and address to open credit cards or bank accounts, apply for jobs, or obtain health insurance. According to the Federal Reserve, synthetic identity fraud is the fastest-growing financial crime in the United States.

The information being used is largely fake, so it can be nearly impossible to catch the perpetrators of synthetic ID theft. It also takes longer for victims to detect the damage being done because it won’t show up in traditional credit reports or alerts. Children are a prime target for fraudsters because they can take advantage of a kid’s SSN for years before the victim realizes they’ve been compromised. Child identity theft is often only discovered when a child starts to apply for loans or credit cards.

The Dark Web, or the “black market” of the internet, has become a breeding ground for the buying and selling of PII that leads to synthetic identity theft. It’s browsed anonymously so hackers, cybercriminals, and identity thieves conduct their business in the shadows – making it even harder to trace and bring them to justice. All of these factors are obviously appealing to those who seek to illegally profit off of others.

Get Smart SSN Tracker

Someone could be using your information now without you even knowing. A credit freeze or fraud alert is a start but they can fail to protect against 80% of identity theft. IdentityForce’s Smart Social Security number tracking intelligently alerts you if there’s an unfamiliar name, alias, or address associated with your SSN, which could be an indication of fraud. As a result, the Smart SSN Tracker greatly reduces the time, money, and emotional stress associated with a stolen SSN and synthetic identity theft.

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*Originally posted June 14, 2018. Updated July 20, 2020*