What Is Criminal Identity Theft? . . .
. . . Isn’t All Identity Theft A Crime?
Yes it is, so it can all be classed as criminal, but the term criminal identity theft is usually used when a criminal uses fake, or stolen, ID to pass himself off as another person.
An identity thief usually uses a stolen identity to fraudulently obtain credit, cash or goods. Financial gain however, is not the only way a criminal can misuse a victim’s identity.
If asked to identify yourself you could verbally say that you are Mr. or Ms. Doe of 791 Any Street, Any Town, Any place.
Your word alone is not likely to be taken as gospel however.
But in most circumstances, if you back your word up with some official document that shows your name and address, and perhaps some other information, you are accepted to be who you say you are.
That settles it. If your official document says you are Mr. or Ms. Doe, that’s who you are, isn’t it?
It most certainly is. Unless of course you are an identity thief.
Criminal Identity Theft : There is a warrant with your name on it!
You are driving. Your head is full of thoughts about your day so far, the little problems that came up and the little successes that you’ve had.
What’s this? Lights in your rear view mirror. It’s a police patrol car, and it’s signaling you to pull over.
You were concentrating on your driving but maybe not keeping an eye on your speed as much as you should have been.
Still, you are sure that you could not have been over the speed limit by much; you tell yourself that by staying calm and polite you might just get away with it.
Arrested! But you know nothing at all about the warrant in your name.
The officer explains why he stopped you and asks for your documents.
He walks back to the patrol car to run a check.
He seems a pretty affable guy.
You are feeling somewhat nervous but reason with yourself that he’ll
probably send you on your way with a warning to keep your speed down.
However, your bubble is burst when the officer returns. Now he is not so affable. He tells you that you are under arrest.
What! You demand to know why.
You are told there is a warrant out for you for failing to attend court on a misdemeanor. Dumbfounded, you plead that you know nothing at all about this and there must be some kind of mistake. Your pleading is of no use, you’re booked.
At some time an identity thief has obtained some of your personal information.
He has furnished himself with phony official documents, probably including a driver’s license, displaying your personal details. He got stopped for a misdemeanor and ticketed to appear in court, except as far as the court knows, it wasn’t him, it was you.
Unknowingly being a victim of criminal identity theft can mess up your life in so many other ways too.
You applied for a job vacancy. It’s the kind of opening that does not come along all that often. You consider the job the perfect opportunity and the remuneration package would make a big difference to your life.
They are impressed with your qualifications and the interviews went as smooth as silk. There is only one fly in the ointment and that’s your criminal record, you didn’t know you had one, but apparently you do. You can’t have the position, sorry.
Financially you’re not in bad shape, but cash is a little tight and you
need some urgently.
You have calculated that you can afford the
repayments so you apply for a loan, as your credit history is good you
are not anticipating any problems. You get refused. You’ve guessed it;
you are a criminal identity theft victim.
You Have Got To Clear Your Name.
Whenever you are the victim of ID theft, the task of clearing your name falls mainly upon your shoulders. Clearing your name can be a drawn out, complicated and daunting process, particularly so in cases of criminal identity theft.
You do need to act swiftly, as the criminal who is using your identity may be charged with further misdemeanors, or more serious crimes, in your name.
The exact procedures for getting your name cleared from all records will vary from state to state, but in all cases officials working within the justice system are the only ones able to correct the information.
Dealing With Criminal Identity Theft.
In your fight to prove that you are the victim of an imposter, you are going to have many conversations with many people, and you will find yourself filling out many forms.
It is very often the case that the misdemeanor, or crime, took place in a jurisdiction other than your own, you will likely have to deal with both.
It will prove invaluable to you to keep highly detailed notes of all conversations, everything that you say and everything the other party says. Keep a log, or journal, and keep it up to date at all times.
Note dates and times, the name of the official you spoke to, who else was present, email addresses and phone numbers.
If storing information online, make sure that it is stored securely and keep a back up. Remember that email is not a secure means of communication and private information can become public.
Keep a photocopy of all forms, note who you sent it to and when. Use certified mail with return receipt requested for all correspondence.
Having a well-kept journal of all conversations and actions will help enormously in establishing that you are in fact the innocent victim of criminal identity theft, and in clearing your name.
Also keep a record of any expenditure and the time spent proving your innocence, as you may be able to claim compensation.
Log all time spent on your case and all time lost from your employment. Detail the cost of necessary phone calls you make, postage you use and record all travel expense. Keep receipts for everything including any stationary you need to document your case.
Keep a record of any medical expense, your case may cause you stress, as well as a record of legal expenses.
Establishing Your Identity.
You will need to contact the court that issued the warrant and the law enforcement that arrested the imposter. Emphasize that you are not the person arrested and an identity thief is misusing your personal information.
Obtain clear instructions for submitting an impersonation report to that jurisdiction.
Your identity will need to be verified; this will involve taking your photograph, your fingerprints and photocopies of various documents. Request that your prints and photos are compared with those of the identity thief.
Once it is established that criminal identity theft has occurred, any warrants should be recalled by the law enforcement and you should be supplied with a clearance letter, or if you were arrested, a certificate of release. (You will need to produce these if you are subsequently arrested again.)
You will need to ensure that a record of the follow-up investigation is filed with the DA’s office. Ask that the primary name be amended on all records to that of the imposter.
If the imposter’s identity is not known, the primary name should be changed to John Doe. Your name should be noted as an alias.
There may be many different records that need to be amended, including city records, state records and federal records.
The procedure for dealing with criminal identity theft, in individual cases, may be more involved than that described above and may drag on for some time. Again, the service of an attorney is likely to bring a positive conclusion quicker and smoother.
This page was not written by a lawyer and is informational only.
Identity Theft Prevention
Criminal Identity Theft.
The Identity Thief.
Who of all the people you come into contact with would steal your personal information?