Synthetic ID in a post breach world

November 1, 2017 by Keir Breitenfeld

The data to create synthetic identities is available. And the marketplace to exchange and monetize that data is expanding rapidly. The fact that hundreds of millions of names, addresses, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers (SSNs) have been breached in the last year alone, provides an easy path for criminals to surgically target new combinations of data.

Armed with an understanding of the actual associations of these personally identifiable information (PII) elements, fraudsters can better navigate the path to perpetrate identity theft, identity manipulation, or synthetic identity fraud schemes on a grand scale. Using information such as birth dates and addresses in combination with Social Security numbers, criminals can target new combinations of data to yield better results with lower risk of detection. Some examples of this would be: identity theft, existing account takeovers, or the deconstruction and reconstruction of those PII elements to better create effective synthetic identities.

Experian has continued to evolve and innovate against fraud risks and attacks with an understanding of attack rates, vectors, and the shifting landscape in data availability and security. In doing so, we’ve historically operated under the assumption that all PII is already compromised in some way or is easily done so. Because of this, we employ a layered approach, providing a more holistic view of an identity and the devices that are used over time by that identity. Relying solely on PII to validate and verify an identity is simply unwise and ineffective in this era of data compromise.

We strive to continuously cultivate the broadest and most in-depth set of traditional, innovative and alternative data assets available. To do this, we must enable the integration of diverse identity attributes and intelligence to balance risk, while maintaining a positive customer experience.

It’s been quite some time since the use of basic PII verification alone has been predictive of identity risk or confidence.  Instead, validation and verification is founded in the ongoing definition and association of identities, the devices commonly used by those individuals, and the historical trends in their behavior.

Download our newest White Paper, Synthetic Identities: Getting real with customers, for an in-depth Experian perspective on this increasingly significant fraud risk.