In 2016, synthetic identity theft accounted for 20% of credit losses. The Federal Reserve reported that it also cost U.S. lenders an estimated $6 billion. According to the FBI, synthetic identity theft is very different from traditional ID theft because criminals do not steal your identity, they create one using a combination of real and fake information. When this happens, a new credit file may be generated in the victim’s name that often is undetected for months.
The criminal may steal your Social Security Number and combine it with fake information. For instance, they may use addresses, dates of birth, and names to create a synthetic identity. They eventually use the new identity to open fraudulent accounts and obtain credit, loans, or even luxury items. Unfortunately, financial institutions sometimes cannot easily flag these accounts as fraudulent. This is often the result of a financial institution or lender believing that the fraudster is a real customer with limited credit history.
Verifying the identity information supplied by the subject of a background check is the first step in any investigation. We begin by first running a proprietary Social Security Number history and validation database. Then, our investigators closely analyze the results of the search for any obvious red flags, such as variances in dates of birth, deceased names, undisclosed addresses, and additional unrelated subject names. Information returned by this foundational search is also used to determine criminal record search jurisdictions and aids CSI Analysts in preparing our unique brand of background investigations.
The FBI recommends checking your credit reports regularly. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company to ensure that the information on them is correct and up to date. You can do this for free by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. You can request that credit bureaus freeze children’s credit until they are 16.