Understanding and Stopping Criminal Identity Theft
The definition of criminal identity theft is a crime where the criminal impersonates the victim in order to protect their innocence. This can lead to victims getting fines or even getting arrested and charged for crimes they did not commit.
How Does This Happen?
There are a number of ways that a criminal can pull this off, and it generally occurs when the thief steals someone’s identity. This is true and pure identity theft, often involving a drivers license with the thieves picture and the victims information. Once they have that, they are pretty much free to commit crimes in their victim’s name.
Stopping Criminal Identity Thieves
If you think that you are a victim of this crime, you should first get in touch with the police department where the charges are coming from. You should offer proof of your identity, and then fill out an impersonation report. The police will often take a photo, get your fingerprints, and run your ID info through their database. When they prove your innocence, warrants will be released. If you feel like this is a complicated situation, however, it is in your best interest to get a lawyer.
Did Someone Use Your Driver’s License?
If someone has stolen or used your driver’s license, take the following steps:
- Get your driver’s license record. You can get this from the DMV.
- Identify any inaccurate information from the report.
- Report any discrepancies.
- Discuss facial recognition with the DMV and if others photos are tied with your information.
- Clear all of the discrepancies. The DMV will do this for you after an investigation.
Signs That You Might be a Victim of Criminal Identity Theft
Sometimes you might not realize that you are a victim of criminal identity theft, but here are some signs:
- Your Social Security Statement may have errors.
- There will most likely be errors on background checks.
- You might get fired and told your criminal record is the reason.
- You might not get a job or apartment due to your false criminal record.
Preventing Criminal Identity Theft
There are some things you can do to make the chances lower that you will become a victim of criminal identity theft:
- Keep your Social Security number and driver’s license safe and hidden when possible.
- If you have to get a new credit card and/or driver’s license, make sure the numbers are different. You don’t just want the same number as the thief can still use it.
- Get a credit freeze and consider identity theft protection.
- Frankly, be as digitally secure as possible and manage paper records the best you can. But this is a hard crime to stop on your own.
- Criminal identity theft happens when the victim has done nothing at all to secure their identity
Should You Be Worried About Criminal Identity Theft?
All of this sounds pretty scary, but there is only a very small chance that you would be held liable for any of these crimes. The bigger issue is that someone could victimize you for years, and you would never realize it. It could become a big headache, and it could also create a domino effect that could ultimately tarnish your good name. Preventing identity theft of all kinds is a start, and as long as you know how to fix it if it happens, you should be okay in the end. Don’t worry about it, but do something about it.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.