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Synthetic identity theft makes a serious threat even worse

Consumer Affairs

In its most recent reporting year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) counted 1.4 million cases of identity theft, in which a criminal assumes the victim’s identity and opens credit accounts in their name.

In recent years a subset of that kind of identity fraud has developed – synthetic identity theft. It’s easier for the fraudster because all they need is the victim’s Social Security number. They then make up a name, address, date of birth, and other information required to open an account.

The advantage for the scammer is that it is easier to do and it may take longer for the fraudulent charges to come to the attention of the victim.

Identity thieves who have created synthetic identities usually commit financial crimes, applying for loans and opening credit card accounts. In recent years they have used synthetic identities to file phony federal tax returns with the stolen Social Security number and collect large refunds.


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