Steve is an up-and-coming scammer with a new scheme under his belt: he utilizes a real address (7 Smith Street) and a fake name (Max Grinchy) to open up real accounts and carry out transactions. Lauren really lives on 7 Smith Street. She started receiving mail for Max Grinchy, but thought nothing of it, and threw the junk mail in the trash. Years later, she reviewed her credit report for the first time in a while and noticed some activity that was not hers. Synthetic Identity Fraud is the creation of a fictional persona, through the blending of stolen personal information with made-up details that fill in the gaps in order to open accounts and carry out transactions. It’s a relatively new process, and a fast-growing financial crime method to be on the look out for.
Did you spot the red flags?
- Lauren suddenly started receiving mail to her address with someone else’s name. This should have been a sign that her information was being mingled with other made-up details to commit fraud.
- Lauren was not regularly checking her credit report. Had she been, she might have caught the suspicious activity much sooner.
What you should know about this scam
In a Synthetic Identity Fraud case, though some of the information is made up, the parts that are real could be tied back to you and can have a negative impact.
Technically, there is no “victim” of Synthetic Identity Fraud, as the “person” exploited does not exist. Because of this, such crimes can go undetected for months.
Though Synthetic Identity Fraud can be difficult to detect and prevent, your best defenses are to use strong passwords, remain vigilant against phishing attempts, and regularly inspect personal accounts for suspicious activity.