What is Criminal Identity Theft?

Individuals who commit criminal identity theft are not out always out to steal your money or ruin your credit.  This type of identity theft occurs when an imposter uses your name upon an arrest or during a criminal investigation.  The personal information they give a law enforcement officer may include a driver's license, date of birth, or Social Security number.  They may also present a counterfeit license that contains a picture of themself and someone's data. 

 How criminals assume your identity

In most cases, an imposter will fraudulently obtain an identification card or a driver's license in a victim's name and provide that documentation to a law enforcement officer.  They can also commit criminal identity theft by using the name and address of a friend or relative without displaying any photo identification.  Most of the time, this is enough to get the imposter off the hook with a simple citation or a quick release from the arrest.  After signing the citation and promising to appear account, the thief never shows up.  This leads the judge to issue a bench warrant in the name of an innocent victim.    

Unfortunately, a victim of criminal identity theft may not know that a warrant has been issued under their name for quite some time.  They usually find out after being detained on a routine traffic stop and arrested due to an outstanding warrant.  By this time, the victim may find themselves in a significant amount of legal and financial trouble. 

In other cases, a criminal identity thief will actually appear in court for the violation and enter a guilty plea without the victim's knowledge.  The imposter may also find themselves booked for a more serious crime such as drunk driving.  After giving away someone else's information, the victim's name is entered into the countywide or statewide criminal database, placing a huge blemish on their record. 

There have been several instances where victims of criminal identity theft do not learn of an impersonation until being denied for employment or terminated from a job.  This occurs when an employer conducts a criminal background search and finds that the victim has a criminal history that they lied about or charges that forbid them from working in that particular environment.  When this happens, there is very a little a victim can do to salvage the job, as an employer has the right to proceed with termination over entering false information on an application.

Fighting Criminal Identity Theft

Similar to financial identity theft, victims of this crime are left with the burden of clearing their own name in the eyes of the criminal justice system.  It is very important to act quickly in order to minimize the damage and get your life back in order.  What makes the process so difficult is the fact that officials working within the criminal justice system are the only ones capable of correcting the data.  Even though this type of identity theft has become more common, there is no standard procedure for clearing one's wrongfully accumulated criminal record.  

If you have become a victim of criminal identity theft, it is very crucial to contact your local police department instantly.  This should be the first step in building a case and clearing your name.  You can also inquire with the Federal Trade Commission for more information on recovering from criminal identity theft.   

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