Synthetic ID theft
idtheftquiz.org Article copyright 2012
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Synthetic ID theft has a lot of parallels in the sci-fi genre. The synthetic identity is an amalgam of identities. Think of Dr. Frankenstein procuring body parts from the grave. Rather than an arm here and a leg there, the identity begins with the theft of a Social Security number, and is brought to life – animated -- with the addition of a name, an address.
Or, none of the identity is real. The entire identity is fictional, constructed only to be a vehicle for pleasure. Think Pris, Darryl Hannah’s replicant character from Blade Runner. This synthetic identity is a slave to the whims of its creator. Luxury cars, penthouse leases, new businesses -- all financed with the credit derived from the synthetic.
The whole thing is very sci-fi (sci-finance?) made even creepier by the fact that synthetic ID theft is far more common than the better known true name identity theft. It accounts for 88 percent of all identity theft and you may never have heard of it. (The Sixth Sense: I see synthetic identity everywhere. They don’t know they’re synthetic.)
Think Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which the small town doctor is confronted by patients who think their friends and relatives are impostors. They look like the real thing, and they can answer questions about the lives of the people they inhabit, but something is not quite right. These simulations were grown from plantlike pods, killing and replacing their victims.
Or more chilling than any of these, synthetic ID theft may inhabit your credit report without your every knowing it’s there. They take the form of subfiles, rarely glimpsed by humans, parasites attached to your credit files only by a similarity of name or Social Security number.
A legitimate subfile will be created with a name change at marriage, or a typo on a credit application. These are harmless. But the subfile that reflects the unpaid bills in your name but mailed to another address will suck the blood from your total Fair Isaac, FICO, score.
What are the signs of synthetic ID theft and is there any way of knowing for sure?
If you begin receiving a lot of mail in someone else’s name, or if you’re turned down for a loan, but your credit’s always been very good, it’s time to get suspicious.
When you order your credit report, be sure you receive all subfiles and check them over closely.
Other than that? Check the basement for pods.
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