The Threat of Synthetic Identity Theft to You and Your Child
Almost everyone has heard of identity theft, which is the theft of your personal information such as your name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number, which is then typically used to steal money from you or open credit accounts in your name. Most of these identity thieves will get what they can from you and then find another victim. This then leaves you trying to prove that’s someone stole your identity and opened these accounts or stole your money, which isn’t always easy to do. But, now, there is a different type of identity theft taking place called Synthetic Identity Theft.
What Is Synthetic Identity Theft
With synthetic identity theft, the thief steals your Social Security number, but then instead of using the rest of your personal information, the thief combines the Social Security number with fictional information to create a synthetic identity. Because this information does not come from a real person, this type of identity theft is hard to detect.
Furthermore, synthetic identity theft is used in a different way than other identity theft. Instead of stealing your information, opening credit lines and using them, and then moving on to another victim, these thieves use the synthetic identity to try and form a relationship with the financial institution. They may maintain this relationship for months or years to establish a good credit rating before making the last withdrawal. The difficulty in trying to detect this type of identity theft gives these thieves time to do this.
Unfortunately, anything the thief chooses to do with their synthetic identity will be linked to the Social Security number they stole since this is the only real piece of information in the identity. This leaves the person whose Social Security number was stolen responsible for any debt the thief incurred. There is one possible hope for some people whose Social Security number is stolen, and that is that when the thief tries to open a credit account with these Social Security numbers under a different name, the creditor may become suspicious and not open the account. However, this means that people without a credit history, such as children tend to be targeted by these thieves. Children can be a particularly good target because it could be years before they apply for credit, thus giving the thieves use of their Social Security number for a potentially long period of time.
How Can You Stay Safe?
To avoid you or your children becoming a victim of this type of identity theft, it is a good idea to check your credit and your children’s credit to see if any unauthorized accounts have been opened using your Social Security numbers. It can also be a good idea to issue a credit freeze for your child since they will likely not be needing to apply for credit in the near future.
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