Synthetic ID Fraud

What is synthetic ID Fraud

Synthetic identity fraud (also known as synthetic identity theft) is one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft—and the hardest to spot and combat.

Instead of stealing an identity, fraudsters use a blend of fake information with real data, such as national insurance numbers, names, address etc to create fictitious identities and credit profiles. In time, they apply for credit cards and build up an online history for the new fraudulent accounts.

Synthetic identity theft is an expert-level fraud that’s done by some of the most sophisticated identity thieves in the world. Synthetic ID fraud is one of the biggest threats banks face today and is costing them billions of pounds and countless hours as they chase down people who don’t even exist.

How do you spot synthetic ID Fraud?

Synthetic identity theft is difficult to detect because fraudsters often hide behind identities and adopt usual behaviour, that makes them look like real people.

You are more at risk if you are what we call a thin-file borrower – essentially if you have virtually no credit history. This usually means that either you have very few credit accounts, haven’t used credit for a long time or have never used it at all. Therefore, if you’re young and new to the credit world, you could also be at risk.

If you think you’re in the ‘thin credit file’ boat, don’t worry, there are ways you can start to build up your credit history.

Ways to protect yourself

  • Keep an eye on your personal details, check your credit report and learn more about protecting your Data Self. If you’ve got young children, try to also monitor anything in their name as they are most probably more at risk than you.
  • Be cautious when you receive a phone call or email which requires you to give away any personal or financial information
  • Use secure complex passwords to prevent anyone accessing any of your online accounts
  • Shred or destroy any documents with personal or financial information and don’t share these with anyone
  • You can have your financial data and Experian Credit Report continually monitored using CreditExpert. With a free Experian account we offer victim of fraud support.
  • Lock your Experian Credit Report to help protect yourself from fraudsters applying for credit in your name – with a CreditExpert or ID Plus subscription

What to do if you become a victim

If you start to receive emails or phone calls asking you about new accounts, or if you’re receiving emails or letters addressed to a different name, this could all be a sign that you are a victim of synthetic identity fraud. You might also start to get calls chasing for money that you haven’t spent.

If you find yourself in this position, respond immediately by contacting your bank or other lenders to let them know you think you’ve been a victim of synthetic identity fraud. You’ll need to verify that it’s you of course.

Also report your case to Action Fraud the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime, who will advise you on the next steps.

Once a synthetic ID has been created, it can be almost impossible to trace the fraudster, as the majority of the details are all fake. So, if you are a victim, don’t spend time and energy trying to track the criminals down, and instead focus on protecting yourself from it ever happening again.

Read more about actions you should take if you become a fraud victim.