Synthetic ID

A synthetic identity (ID) is a fake identity that a fraudster creates by combining real information with false data. 

Synthetic identities often start with a stolen Social Security number, date of birth, and/or name, which are then paired with a fake address, phone number, email address, and other PII. Because synthetic IDs contain some information that is real, they can be harder to detect than IDs that are purely fabricated. 

Synthetic IDs are an integral part of synthetic fraud whereby bad actors attempt to open fraudulent accounts or lines of credit; make fraudulent purchases; and commit healthcare fraud, employment fraud, and more. Synthetic IDs can even be leveraged for terrorist financing.

Frequently asked questions

What is synthetic fraud?

Synthetic fraud refers to instances of fraud that can be tied back specifically to a synthetic ID that consists of a mix of both real and fake data. 

How do you detect a synthetic ID?

One of the most effective ways of detecting synthetic IDs is to leverage multiple forms of identity verification — for example, document verification, government ID verification, and database verification. This provides multiple checkpoints with the potential to uncover fraudulent information. 

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) electronic Consent Based Social Security Number Verification (eCBSV) service can be particularly effective at detecting synthetic IDs. With this check, you collect a user’s name, date of birth, and Social Security number. The eCBSV service then verifies whether or not the information matches their records. 

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