Can Facial Recognition Prevent Synthetic Identity Theft?

Synthetic identity theft poses a significant challenge for businesses as it is harder to detect and can cause substantial financial and reputational damage. As companies seek innovative solutions to combat this threat, facial recognition technology has emerged as a potential tool. This article explores facial recognition’s capabilities in protecting companies from synthetic identity theft and its benefits.

Understanding Synthetic Identity Theft

Synthetic identity theft involves fabricating an identity using actual and fictitious information.

According to AU10TIX, a criminal steals an individual’s complete identity in traditional identity theft. However, synthetic identity thieves combine bits of real data, such as a Social Security Number (SSN), with fake details. This merged identity can then be used to apply for credit, create bank accounts, and commit other fraudulent acts.

This type of fraud is particularly insidious because it is difficult to detect. Credit monitoring services and identity theft protection measures may not flag these synthetic identities because they don’t belong to a real person. The fabricated identity often appears legitimate and can build a credible credit history, making it easier for fraudsters to execute larger schemes.

For more information, you can look for online resources that have synthetic identity theft explained in detail. You can learn about how fraudsters create these identities and the dangers they pose to individuals and businesses. This information can help you understand this fraud in nuanced detail and devise relevant precautionary measures.

As a Reuters article mentions, synthetic identity theft has become the fastest-growing fraud in the past couple of years. The reason is simple: it is fast, cheap, and relatively less risky than other forms of fraud. For instance, around 95% of synthetic identities are estimated to go unnoticed when onboarding a customer. As a result, it is estimated that this form of fraud would cause losses ranging from $20 to $40 billion.

The Role of Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition technology (FRT) uses complex algorithms to assess and verify a person’s facial characteristics. It determines identification by comparing these traits to a database of known faces. As synthetic identity theft becomes more sophisticated, companies explore FRT as a defense mechanism.

Enhanced Verification Processes

One of FRT’s primary benefits is its ability to enhance verification processes. Traditional identity verification techniques, such as passwords, PINs, and even biometric data like fingerprints, are susceptible to theft or replication.

Facial recognition, however, relies on unique features that are more challenging to replicate. By incorporating FRT, companies can ensure that the person presenting an identity is the individual they claim to be.

Moreover, technological advancements have increased the accuracy of facial recognition technology. A comparative analysis performed by the Bipartisan Policy Center shows that 45 of the 105 algorithms analyzed were more than 99% accurate. However, the accuracy decreased when the image in the database was taken several years back.

Real-Time Authentication

FRT offers real-time authentication, which is crucial in preventing synthetic identity theft. For instance, FRT can instantly verify the applicant’s identity during an online account opening or loan application.

It can match their live facial image with the image on their submitted identification documents. This immediate verification can thwart fraudsters attempting to use synthetic identities.

Multi-Layered Security

FRT adds a layer of protection when used in conjunction with other security measures. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) systems that include facial recognition can significantly reduce the likelihood of synthetic identity theft.

For example, a financial institution might require customers to log in with a password and then verify their identity using FRT. This multi-layered technique makes it far more difficult for fraudsters to compromise security.

Benefits of Facial Recognition in Combating Synthetic Identity Theft

The integration of facial recognition technology into corporate security systems offers several compelling benefits:

  • Accuracy and reliability: Modern FRT systems are highly accurate, with advanced algorithms capable of distinguishing subtle differences in facial features. This precision decreases the possibility of false positives and negatives, ensuring that only authorized users obtain access.
  • User convenience: Unlike passwords or physical tokens, which can be forgotten or lost, facial recognition only requires the individual’s presence. This convenience can enhance user satisfaction and encourage compliance with security protocols.
  • Scalability: FRT solutions may be scaled to meet the demands of enterprises of any size. Whether a firm is a tiny startup or a major organization, FRT may be simply incorporated into security frameworks.
  • Deterrence: The presence of FRT can serve as a deterrent to potential scammers. Knowing that advanced facial recognition systems are in place, criminals may be less likely to attempt synthetic identity fraud against a company. This can also be used by law enforcers to deter crime and theft. According to Pew Research, 46% of adult Americans think that police using facial recognition is a good idea. On the other hand, 27% believe it is a bad idea, and another 27% are unsure if it is good or bad.

Frequently Asked Questions

How secure is face recognition?

Security levels for facial recognition technology vary depending on the system’s complexity. High-quality systems that use deep learning algorithms and vast datasets are typically safe. However, weaknesses remain, such as a picture or mask spoofing.

What should you do if you suspect identity theft?

When you suspect identity theft, call your bank and other financial institutions promptly to get your accounts frozen. Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and make a police report.

What are the limitations of face recognition?

Facial recognition has various limitations, such as mistakes caused by low image quality, changes in look, and shifting lighting conditions. Another key concern is bias, which occurs when systems perform inconsistently across different demographic groups, potentially resulting in false positives or negatives.

How do businesses safeguard their data from hackers?

Companies safeguard their data from hackers using numerous levels of protection. These include using strong encryption for data in transit and at rest, as well as deploying firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Multi-factor authentication and strong access restrictions are also important for reducing illegal access.


While facial recognition technology is not a panacea, it represents a powerful tool in the fight against synthetic identity theft. Companies that strategically integrate FRT into their security plans can greatly improve their capacity to detect and prevent fraudulent activity. This will assist in protecting their assets and reputation in an increasingly digital environment.


Daniel Raymond

Daniel Raymond, a project manager with over 20 years of experience, is the former CEO of a successful software company called Websystems. With a strong background in managing complex projects, he applied his expertise to develop and, innovative project management tools designed to streamline processes and improve productivity. Throughout his career, Daniel has consistently demonstrated a commitment to excellence and a passion for empowering teams to achieve their goals.

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