Your BBB is constantly hearing of new ways both consumers and businesses are being exploited.
Synthetic identity theft is the fastest-growing consumer fraud, and occurs when thieves create new identities, either by combining real and fake info to establish new accounts with fake identities, or creating brand new identities from fake or inaccurate information, according to credit reporting agency Experian. Since perpetrators of synthetic ID theft will only use a stolen Social Security number, – the only piece of information that matches the “real” person, the crime can often go undetected for years. “It’s almost like a ghost is committing these crimes,” said prosecutor Warren Kato with the Los Angeles county District Attorney’s Office. Synthetic identity theft is the fastest-growing type of ID fraud in the U.S. and has already surpassed “true-name” identity fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which estimated it currently accounts for up to 85 percent of all identity fraud.
Despite this number, there have only been two people in the US prosecuted for this crime. The most recent is a Marina Del Rey California man who pled guilty to withdrawing almost $2 million, using fake identities to form fake companies, creating fake customers who generated fake charges for these fake companies.
The only two ways to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of synthetic ID theft are:
1. Check your annual Social Security statement to ensure your reported income figure is not more than you actually earned.
2. Never ignore mail sent to your home address with another person’s name.
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