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Synthetic identity fraud surges, EMV, SSN shifts cited

Fraudsters create synthetic identities from personal info on web

Synthetic identity fraud occurs when cybercriminals use a combination of real and fake information to create a new "individual." If they've used your Social Security number, you could spend months trying to untangle the mess.

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Infographic: ID thieves covet SSNs over credit card data

Social Security number breaches are outnumbering card data breaches 4 to 1, and reported data breaches as a whole are on a dramatic upward trend, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

The number of tracked U.S. data breaches hit an all-time high in 2016, up a whopping 40 percent over the previous year.

Though we're only in mid-September, the number of 2017 breaches is already approaching 2016's count, so we'll see another all-time high set this year, perhaps up another 30-40 percent.

But while the share of breaches that exposed card data has come down in the last couple of years, and sits at its lowest point since 2012, SSN breaches have instead risen for three years and are at their highest rate since 2011.

The ITRC has been tracking breaches involving Social Security and card numbers since 2010. While the latest breach figures include the massive Equifax hack announced in early September, the tracker counts each breach as one, regardless of whether it exposed 10,000 records or 143 million, as in the credit bureau breach.

CreditCards.com Infographic: ID thieves covet SSNs over credit card data

See related: The last 4 digits of your SSN are all an ID thief needs, More infographics


'Your Business Credit'
Q&A with Elaine Pofeldt

Can private schools charge
credit card convenience fees?

Your Business Credit expert Elaine Pofeldt

The fee can be hefty depending on tuition cost. See Expert Q&A

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Bank of America's new travel card
offers 75 percent rewards bonus

In addition to offering a 50,000-point sign-up bonus, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card gives the bank's checking, savings and investment account holders a 75 percent bonus on all their points. Read our review of the Bank of America Premium Rewards card.


CreditCards.com reviews
of retail credit cards

retail credit card reviews

Our retail credit card reviews explore the rewards programs, special financing deals, APRs and other perks (and potential pitfalls) of the most popular store cards.


Our 3 best cash back credit cards

Best cash back credit cards 2017

With the right cash back card, you could earn hundreds or thousands of dollars each year in extra cash. Our three best cash back credit cards offer flat-rate percentages back on all purchases and bigger bonuses in specific categories such as gas, groceries and restaurants.


Video: How much torture
can your credit card take?

Are credit cards waterproof? Dryer-proof? Can they stand up to sriracha? We tried all of that and more in our EMV chip card torture test.


'Taking Charge' blog

Taylor Tompkins The future is now,
and other news to know


Taylor Tompkins | 9/25/2017

It's a scary time to have a Social Security number in the wake of this year's high-profile data breaches. Plus, Mastercard and Marie Claire are realizing Marty McFly's vision of the world from 1985.
See more


Poll: Americans spend
megabucks on sports

Our new survey on sports spending finds Americans shelled out more than $100 billion – yes, billion – over the past year on sporting events, athletic equipment and gym memberships.


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Credit card tip of the day

4 fine-print traps to watch out for in credit card rewards programs: Beware of confusing bonus spending categories and be sure you know how to claim your rewards.



Updated: 09-26-2017