Definition

synthetic identity theft

Part of the Security management glossary:

Synthetic identity theft is the use of someone's personally identifiable information (PII), which the thief combines with made-up details to create a false identity. 

The thief may steal an individual's social security number, for example, and use it in conjunction with a false name and address. The thief typically creates fake businesses to provide the identity with credit and employment histories. Once the identity is established, the thief can use it to obtain credit and open bank accounts, usually for fraudulent purposes. Less frequently, thieves use the information to create new identities for themselves or to sell. 

Synthetic identity theft often goes undetected. The person whose data was stolen doesn't usually also have funds stolen or credit charges made on their accounts because the thief opens new accounts. The thief accesses funds through these accounts, which are not connected to any actual person. 

The direct victims of synthetic identity theft are usually the creditors. Indirectly, consumers suffer as creditor losses are passed on to them. According to experts, the vast majority of identity theft fraud is based on synthetic IDs.

To prevent synthetic identity theft, any organization that stores personally identifying information should ensure that all details match for any given unique identifier

 

This was last updated in January 2014
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • Types of enterprise risk

    - An enterprise risk is any potential event that could threaten an organization's ability to achieve its financial goals; long term, a risk can be a threat to sustainability. In a business context, r... (WhatIs.com)

  • business risk

    - A risk, in a business context, is anything that threatens an organization's ability to generate profits at its target levels. Business risks are broadly categorized as pure risks, which are negativ... (WhatIs.com)

  • pay for privacy

    - Pay for privacy is a business model in which customers are charged a fee to ensure that their data will not be shared and is secure from third-party access. In some contexts, a pay for privacy serv... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Security management

    - Terms related to security management, including definitions about intrusion detection systems (IDS) and words and phrases about asset management, security policies, security monitoring, authorizati...

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About synthetic identity theftPowered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.