Monday, September 24, 2018
Business

Your latest security threat: 'Synthetic' identity theft

It's hard enough to restore your identity when a thief steals your Social Security number then uses it to open bank accounts and obtain loans in your name.

But there's now a more complicated form of identity theft that could really cause you headaches.

It's called "synthetic identity theft." It occurs when thieves create new identities by combining real and fake identifying information then using those identities to open new accounts.

"This is where they'll take your Social Security number, my name and address, someone else's birthday and they will combine them into the equivalent of a bionic person," said Adam Levin, chairman of IDT911, which helps businesses recover from identity theft.

Synthetic identity theft is harder to unravel than traditional identity theft, experts said.

"It's tougher than even the toughest identity theft cases to deal with because they can't necessarily peg it to any one person," Levin said.

In fact, the fraud might not be discovered until an account goes to collections and a collection agency researches the Social Security number, he said.

Children and seniors are particularly vulnerable to synthetic identity theft, said Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education at Experian Consumer Services.

Children are favorite targets of identity thieves because parents get Social Security numbers for their kids shortly after birth, but the number isn't used for credit purposes for at least 18 years.

"Often times what that means is that profile is in the system as a separate profile, so it can go undetected for years," Frost said. "That's because all the bits and pieces of personal information confuse the system. The computer programs are designed to try and match a person's information using their name, address, Social Security number and so forth. If the computer doesn't get a true match, it moves on."

Frost said credit repair scams might also contribute to synthetic identity theft.

In such scams, a credit repair company will sell a consumer a "credit profile number" or a "credit privacy number." That number could be a stolen Social Security number, often from a child.

The outfit then uses the CPN and the consumer's personal information to create a new credit file. That CPN and the new credit file are used intentionally to hide the consumer's true credit history.

"By using a stolen number as your own, the con artists will have involved you in identity theft," the Federal Trade Commission said.

What does all this mean? There's more reason than ever to zealously protect your personal information and your identity.



• Make sure that your reported income figure for the year is in line and not overinflated from what you actually earned, said Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education at Experian Consumer Services.

• Watch for mail that's sent to your address but with someone else's name.

• Review your credit reports regularly, and check for inaccurate information and unauthorized accounts. Go to annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus.

• If you are denied credit, make sure the lender based their decision on your identity and your personal credit information and not someone else's, Frost said.

Here's how to protect yourself

Check your annual Social Security statement, which lists your earnings record, work credits and estimate of future benefits.

Comments
Port Tampa Bay marks 1 million cruise passengers in a year for the first time ever

Port Tampa Bay marks 1 million cruise passengers in a year for the first time ever

TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay last week welcomed its 1-millionth cruise ship passenger for the first time ever in a single year.The port hit the milestone on Sept. 17, when the count hit 1,000,524 for this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. It rose furthe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Dear Penny: I spent everything ending a bad relationship. Can I treat myself?

Dear Penny: I spent everything ending a bad relationship. Can I treat myself?

Dear Penny, I just made one of the hardest decisions of my life and ended the relationship I had been in since my early 20s. After a decade in a bad relationship, I’m super excited to be single again. The problem is my wardrobe. Over the past few yea...
Published: 09/24/18
Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will come from scammers, according to First Orion, a company that provides phone carriers and their customers caller ID and call blocking technology.The Arkansas-based firm projects an explosion of incomin...
Published: 09/23/18
Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

TAMPA — It might seem like an unlikely match from the outside: A distinguished chef with a restaurant known for inventive plates using produce shoppers can find at… Walmart?Walmart, the country’s largest grocer, is known for having a core consumer wh...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/23/18
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

TAMPA — As John Reisinger waited with family at Tampa General Hospital, grief settled in like a fog. So some of the details are hazy.But he remembers the moment when three women in white lab coats approached him.The day before, his niece, Jessica Rau...
Published: 09/21/18
Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

In early fall, Retro Fitness will open a 17,000 square foot fitness facility in Citrus Park, and it plans for more Tampa Bay area locations.Founded in 2005, Retro Fitness has 153 clubs throughout the United States and is the official fitness center o...
Published: 09/21/18
The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

TAMPA — Coming soon from the developers who brought you the Armature Works: Heights Union, two high-end office buildings next door to the trendy food hall, event space and co-working complex overlooking the Hillsborough River.Developers said Friday t...
Published: 09/21/18
Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

RIVEVIEW – Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.The short-lived Tap’s Brewhouse & Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to r...
Published: 09/21/18
Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

The U.S. Small Business Administration has extended its disaster loan program to include Pinellas and Pasco county businesses affected by Red Tide.Already, the Pinellas County Economic Development Office was taking applications for bridge loans to he...
Published: 09/21/18