Synthetic IDs: Great For Fraudsters, Bad For Victims

Identity theft… without your full identity 

It’s called synthetic identity theft. Whether by a phishing scam, data breach, hack or physical theft, your information becomes compromised and falls into the wrong hands. Criminals use this stolen information to mix and match names, birthdays, Social Security numbers and addresses with other fabricated information to create synthetic IDs. Once the synthetic identity is made, criminals can make fraudulent charges to your bank account, open new lines of credit, order prescriptions and even commit crimes under your name. 

In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called synthetic identity theft “the fastest growing type of identity fraud in the United States.” Unlike “true name” identity theft, fraudsters only need to use certain pieces of your information — paired with the criminal’s own or fabricated information — to create a new, “synthetic” identity.

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What Happens To Your Information After a Data Breach?

Data breaches have become all-too-common amongst retailers, businesses, educational institutions and health care facilities. Last year, 1,093 data breaches led to over 36 million compromised records in the United States, leaving millions of Americans’ personal information exposed. 

The best way you can protect your information from compromise is by taking proactive measures to safeguard it, especially after a data breach. Follow us as we break down what can happen to your information after a data breach, what the law says about notifying you of breached data and how to secure information that has already been compromised.  Continue reading

Combating Tax Identity Theft: The IRS and the Taxpayer

Tax season, fraud, theft – oh my! 

Tax season is a notoriously stressful time. Between filling out the forms, paying taxes or waiting for refunds, the tax-filing process can seem endless.

What’s more concerning is that tax season is a holiday for identity thieves. Tax fraud and tax identity theft continue to be a significant problem for both the tax administration and American taxpayers alike. Whether it’s through data breaches, phishing emails, scams or simple social engineering tactics, criminals hope to obtain enough of your sensitive information so that they can fraudulently file your taxes before you do.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has made great strides to improve its fraud and identity theft detection methods. Last year, the IRS caught 787,000 confirmed tax identity theft returns from entering its systems. But, fraudsters continue to find ways around these protocols, warranting increased vigilance on both the tax industry and the individual taxpayer. In short, criminals want your tax returns just as much as you do – and they’ll do anything they can to get them. Continue reading