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What is Synthetic Identity Theft?

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Take a true piece of personal information and add in some false info and what do you get?  Synthetic identity theft.  It's new and it's on the rise.

Have you heard of it yet?  If not, it's likely to become common knowledge soon.  By some accounts, it comprises about 85% of all identity theft in the US, costs around $2 billion annually and affects tens to hundreds of thousands of people.

One common form of SIT is to use a CPN. A Credit Profile Number is a nine-digit number that looks like a Social Security number that is used by credit repair companies for their customers to open new accounts.  A fraudster will offer to sell a person a CPN as a replacement to their SSN, telling them they'll be able to open new credit cards.  They also add that they should get a new address, which will keep credit card companies from realizing they are someone else with bad existing credit.

A CPN can be randomly generated or it could even be an existing social security number.  There are, in fact, websites that can give you a list of unused SSNs.  Using any of these numbers to open a new line of credit is considered illegal by credit issuers, the FBI and any other entity, despite what the people selling CPNs as new credit identities might tell their prospective, unknowing customers.