Beshear Calls on Federal Government to Implement Safeguards to Protect Kentuckians from ‘Synthetic Identity Theft’

Andy Beshear

Attorney General Andy Beshear is asking a federal agency to swiftly implement a recently passed federal law that will better protect the Social Security numbers of Kentuckians, including those of children and seniors.

Beshear and a coalition of attorneys general are asking the Social Security Administration to develop and facilitate an identity verification database for certified financial institutions to use in real time to verify a person’s identity during a credit transaction.

The current system does not allow financial institutions to check a person’s identity with the Social Security Administration in real time.

Beshear said such a database would protect Kentuckians from the fastest growing form of identity theft in the nation – synthetic identity theft. The theft occurs when con artists combine a valid Social Security number with fake information to create a brand-new and different identity.

“Credit agency reports and other safeguards don’t always catch this type of identity theft, and the con artists have figured this out,” Beshear said. “This is why we need real-time verification for Social Security numbers to ensure Kentuckians’ credit and money are safe.”

Beshear said the Social Security numbers of children and seniors are most at risk. Children because they don’t apply for credit until later in their life, and seniors because they don’t use credit as often.

Beshear said Kentuckians should carefully keep watch over their accounts and credit reports, and that some effects of identity theft may not be noticed immediately, such as fraudulent accounts that are later sent to a debt collector, or credit report errors due to misuse of someone’s Social Security number in the case of synthetic identity theft.

Kentuckians should call their bank or the merchant, Beshear said if they see mistakes or signs of misuse, and ask that any fraudulent charges be removed. Ask the bank or merchant whether the account should be closed or replaced with a new one.

For online accounts, consider changing the password and pin numbers, and if the same password is used anywhere else, change that, too.

Beshear said Kentuckians should monitor a child or ward’s identity regularly to be sure no accounts are opened in his or her name. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or to a credit-reporting agency’s website for information on how to check with the credit reporting agencies to see if a credit history has been established in the name of the child or ward.

For further tips and guidance, visit the Attorney General’s Identity Theft webpage by clicking here.

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