This Tricky ID Scam Is Spreading - Stop Facebook from Spying on You...: And Other Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy (2015)

Stop Facebook from Spying on You...: And Other Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy (2015)

This Tricky ID Scam Is Spreading

Scammers have become proficient at stealing just a little piece of your identity and using that to create a fake person to buy things. The crime, called “synthetic” identity theft, now accounts for more than 80% of the 16 million identity-theft cases in the US, according to the federal government.

How it works: Instead of stealing your basic credit card information and posing as you to run up charges on your credit card, thieves steal a sliver of your ID, typically your Social Security number, and combine that information with another person’s name or a fake name, a phone number and an address they can access. Remarkably, many of the applications with mismatched information slip past the credit bureaus and credit card providers. This is partly because Social Security numbers are not meant to be universal identifiers, though they often are used that way. Sometimes scammers even use the new ID to get a job, which further enhances their ability to get credit. And you don’t realize what has happened to your ID information, because nothing unusual shows up on your statements.

When creditors eventually do investigate because the scammer stops paying the credit card bills for a prolonged period, some of the identifying information gets traced back to you. While you won’t be responsible for the financial losses, creditors still may freeze your credit accounts and/or add negative marks to your credit rating until they determine that you are an innocent victim.

Self-defense: Make sure that your reported income on your annual Social Security statement for the year is not overinflated, and monitor your credit reports for any unauthorized accounts.

Expert Source: Andrew Gerry, senior vice president of operations for the identity risk management company Intersections Inc., Chantilly, Virginia.