ATLANTA - You know what identity theft is. But are you up to speed on synthetic identity theft? If not, you should be.
It's lesser known, but according to the FTC, synthetic ID theft is the fastest growing form of identification theft.
Let's define it: Synthetic ID theft is a type of fraud that combines fake, usually stolen, information to create a new identity to open fraudulent accounts.
Again, according to the Federal Trade Commission, this type of fraud accounts for as much as 85 percent of credit card fraud cases.
Our friends at Call for Action get the calls that support Transunion's estimates that last year $355 million in outstanding credit card balances belong to people who don't exist. Call for Action participated in a panel to get congress up to speed on this issue. And now they want you, too, to get your head around it.
Now, two groups of folks are in the greatest risk categories. They are children born after June 25, 2011 and new immigrants. Why? That's the day - June 25th - that the Social Security Administration began randomizing social security numbers.
And this is particularly terrible for children because someone could be using a part of their identity for decades before they realize it. And then there they are trying to get a credit card or their first job and realize someone has wrecked their credit, which should at that point be pristine.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SYNTHETIC ID THEFT
- Shred credit card offers that come in the mail.
- Keep your child's personal identifying information hidden away. Often the ID thief is someone you know.
- Freeze your child's credit now. Some state don't allow that, but Georgia does.
You can reach out to credit reporting agencies to freeze credit.
There are red flags that indicate your child is an ID theft victim. If she is getting credit card offers in the mail, check her credit status. If he is receiving collections calls, again, check his credit status.