man with question mark as head, hacker Source: Shutterstock

One residual benefit of the pandemic has been a reduction in instances of synthetic identity fraud – a criminal strategy that involves cobbling together real and fake personal information to open fraudulent accounts or lines of credit with the goal of stealing or moving money. But the financial institutions that are often targeted by synthetic fraud perpetrators shouldn’t relax yet, because it’s expected to surge when payments put off by pandemic loan forbearance programs start to come due.

That’s according to new research from the Chicago-based credit reporting agency TransUnion and Boston-based research firm Aite Group. As of the third quarter of 2020 (the latest data available), outstanding synthetic fraud balances for auto, credit card, retail credit card and personal loans totaled $855 million, a drop from the $1.05 billion reported two years prior, according to TransUnion’s analysis. In addition, TransUnion found new auto loan and credit card accounts tied to synthetic fraudsters declined by 23% and 32%, respectively, from Q3 2019 to Q3 2020 – down to their lowest points since the company began tracking them in 2016.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has worked in the credit union space for over a decade. She joined CU Times as managing editor in 2015 and was promoted to executive editor in 2019. Before that, she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union) in Los Angeles from 2013-2015, and as a CU Times freelancer from 2011-2013. She has been a professional writer and editor for more than 17 years, specializing in news and lifestyle journalism as well as marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space.

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