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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. 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

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'Taking Charge' blog

Taylor Tompkins The future is now,
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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.
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Updated: 09-26-2017