Synthetic identity theft is the newest form of identity theft and growing fast. This scam is one of the most alarming concerns of the present generation.
The worst part of synthetic identity theft is, it is harder to detect. You might realize that you've been a victim after years later.
Eva Velasquez, the CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center, has explained that a fraudster uses one true information, then possibly combines it with a fake name, date of birth and so on.
As per the investors, "synthetic identity fraud now accounts for 85 percent of all identity fraud in the United States, costing an estimated $2 billion a year".
The investigators further say that one of the reasons behind synthetic identity theft is the sale of CPNs, or Credit Profile Numbers, by credit repair companies.
How does synthetic identity theft work?
Synthetic identity theft mostly targets children. However, an adult, elderly and even dead people are also becoming a victim of this scam.
They use the real SSN number to create a fake online identity and apply for credit cards. Being a fake credit card holder, they start buying gift cards, smartphones, and even cars. Soon, they sell the assets to get cash and then disappear.
As per the Federal Trade Commission, "Since this type of ID theft does not affect your main credit file, it often doesn't hit your credit report, nor will a fraud alert or credit freeze help. It takes longer to find out you've been victimized, making it harder for you to clear your name. When [the criminals] run up thousands of dollars of debt and disappear, the creditors will eventually backtrack to you."
How to avoid synthetic identity theft
Synthetic identity theft is avoidable.
1. Protect your mailbox to avoid being read by others
You should remove important papers or bank statements that are dropped in the mailbox at your apartment. After thoroughly checking the papers, discard them by burning or shredding.
2. Stop sharing personal information with others
A large number of youngsters are the victim of synthetic identity theft due to their carelessness. Most of the youngsters don't protect their personal information on the phone or on social networks. Setting privacy on the phone and social media profiles is recommended to stop leakage of information.
3. Keep Social Security Numbers in a secure place
In synthetic identity theft, your SSN is playing a vital role, especially those of kids. Protect your and your children's SSN by keeping them in a safe place instead of a wallet.
If you find any error, then maybe someone else is using your SSN. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) immediately.
4. Download apps on your mobile
You can download LifeLock app or LifeLock Identity app on your mobile to receive fraud notification.
5. Avoid unsolicited calls
If someone claims to be from bank or IRS and asks for your account details or SSN, then disconnect the line straight away. Visit your bank or call back IRS to know the matter.
6. Make your children aware
You must talk to your child about the risk associated with synthetic identity thefts. Explain how important it is to stay safe from these fraudulent activities.
7. Browse secured websites
Some shopping portals are not secured and can leak your account details. Make online payment only through secured payment services.
8. Change passwords in a regular basis
Try to change all your online account passwords in a regular interval to avoid getting hacked by scammers. Try to avoid using unknown persons’ devices while traveling. In case there is an emergency, log out your accounts and delete the history properly from the browser to stay safe.
9. Avoid clicking on junk Emails
Don’t click on junk links sent by unknown persons. Clicking on junk links reveals your personal information to the scammers.
Finally, by paying attention to every details and with a bit of awareness, you can avoid the synthetic identity theft. Make sure, you monitor credit reports from all the 3 credit bureaus.
Remember, being a victim of identity theft may affect the credit rating negatively. Contact the bureaus to inform that you've been victimized. They will take step accordingly
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