In synthetic identity theft, instead of stealing an actual person’s identity, a thief creates a fictional identity by taking pieces of information from a number of people. The thief usually starts with one victim’s Social Security number and then composes a fictional identity associated with that number. Synthetic identity theft is often harder to detect than true identity theft, because accounts and other credit that is falsely obtained typically do not show up on the credit report of the victim whose Social Security number has been stolen. Since the thieves have created fictional identities instead of stealing real consumers’ identities, it is most often banks that are the real victims of this type of theft because they are stuck with the bills. Beware of so-called credit repair companies that use synthetic identity theft to “erase” your credit file and create a synthetic (or fictional) identity for you. While this tactic appears to solve your credit problem, it is illegal and could create new ones down the road.