The cost of global synthetic ID fraud is hard to estimate, but it runs well into billions of dollars, not to mention the many hours banks spend chasing people who don’t exist. Its rise is mainly down to the availability of data that can now be used to create synthetic identities: our online footprints are growing ever larger and cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important, as highlighted by numerous high-profile data breaches. Any data stolen can now be bought and sold relatively simply on the Dark Web, the part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible via special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.
Prevention is difficult. New security chips may have made it harder to steal credit card numbers, but they can’t stop synthetic ID fraud. Banks are turning to a variety of technological innovations in an attempt to combat the problem. Voice recognition software, for example, can ascertain if one voice has been contacting call centres under numerous identities. Artificial intelligence engines and machine learning can be used to dig deeper into our digital data to help verify identity more effectively, analysing information such as social media or community records that matches a name with a location. Has this person been posting on Facebook or Instagram in a particular town? Does the name crop up in local school records at the correct time?