Merriam-Webster defines synthetic as: : relating to or involving synthesis : not analytic – the synthetic aspects of a philosophy. In other words, man-made. In the case of identity theft, synthetic refers to the creation of a fake identity using a combination of stolen, real information and fake information. Understanding synthetic identity theft will help you protect yourself from possible fraudulent activity using your information.

How Synthetic Identity Theft Works

Synthetic identity creators are in the business of creating fictional identities in order to obtain credit, driver’s licenses, open bank accounts or apply for loans. The most often stolen, and most harmful, item are Social Security numbers. Once a Social Security number is stolen, it opens a gateway to numerous possible scams. Often, scammers will seek out children’s Social Security numbers specifically for the creation of synthetic identities. The reason for this is that it is generally more difficult to detect fraudulent activity on a child’s Social Security number. There is no reason why a creditor would run report for a child. Parents wouldn’t feel the need to obtain a credit report for their children. You generally would only find out of fraudulent activity after the damage has been done.

Effects Of Synthetic Identity Fraud

There are many ways synthetic identity fraud can affect its victims. Generally, after information is stolen, the scam will start with trying to obtain credit. For example, the first step can be using a child’s untouched Social Security number. Pair this with the name and employment history of a recently deceased person to start a credit file. At the beginning, all applications for credit will be denied, but a file is created. With some work, eventually scammers will be able to obtain credit under this Social Security number. Another way is for scammers to target people with good credit scores. They will add the synthetic identity as a registered user to a credit card (often for short periods of time), and the synthetic identity will inherit the real user’s good credit score.

The aftermath of synthetic identity theft can be extremely devastating. If a child’s information is stolen, often there will be no indication of it until they try to apply for student loans or find a job as an adult. For adults who have their information stolen, it can throw a huge wrench into purchasing a home or obtaining a credit card.

We hope you have a better grasp in understanding synthetic identity theft and its intent. We highly recommend subscribing to an identity theft recovery service which can put the pieces back together should your information be stolen. This can save you money out-of-pocket and save you hundreds of hours of time. Your information is valuable and so is your security.