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The rise of synthetic identity theft

When building a character isn’t a game.

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Whether it’s phishing emails, fake IDs, or hacked credit card numbers, identity theft costs victims money, time, and mental space. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry for international criminal gangs and shady street hustlers, and is battled by a score of police, private citizens, and companies.

A new challenge to those efforts is synthetic identity fraud. This particular approach to identity fraud pulls information from a legitimate source, such as a stolen Social Security number, but then generates new, false information to create an entirely unique and new digital identity. That new identity is then able to slip into the financial world through loan applications, online accounts, credit cards, and the like. It’s no chump change either. In 2016, synthetic identity theft cost companies 6 billion dollars.

Efforts to fight this new approach focus on both digital tools and human oversight. Companies like InfoArmor specialize in detecting anomalies in financial records and in responding quickly to reports of possible identity theft. While identity theft may continue to evolve, it’s good to know that the tools against it will too.

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