Criminal Identity Theft is everyone's worst nightmare. Criminal identity thieves commit crimes while using your identity. Because law enforcement officials believe you are the actual criminal, you could be arrested and jailed for a crime you know nothing about. identitytheft.info worked with Identity Theft Expert Bob Sullivan of MSNBC to create this video warning consumers about the dangers of Criminal Identity Theft.
You’re driving along on a peaceful Saturday afternoon with your family when you get that sinking feeling as you look in the rearview mirror and see the flashing lights of a police car signaling you to pull over.
The police officer approaches your window and asks for your driver’s license, registration and insurance card. The officer informs you that you were speeding, but that if your driving record is clean he will only issue a warning. You watch in the mirror as he returns to his vehicle to run your name through a police database.
Minutes later the officer returns and you are shocked when he commands you to “step out of the car and place your hands on the roof.” Suddenly you are being handcuffed as the officer informs you that you are under arrest because there is a warrant in your name for a series of serious crimes in the next state.
You protest to the officer that there must be a mistake. You tell him that you’ve never committed a crime or received a traffic ticket. Your pleas are ignored as the officer says your identity matches the information on the warrant and you can sit in jail until Monday and explain it to the judge.
You’ve just joined the ranks of thousands criminal identity theft victims.
Every day, innocent Americans have their identities stolen by identity thieves who then use the identity of the innocent victim during the commission of other crimes. When those crimes are detected, it may result in the innocent victim receiving a criminal record they are unaware of until they are stopped by a police officer or go through a background check for a job.
Criminal identity theft is the use of any form of identification to deceive a law enforcement officer or agency into assigning a criminal act to the name of an identity theft victim. Once the name of an innocent identity theft victim is assigned to the criminal act of the true perpetrator, it can be very difficult for the identity theft victim to convince law enforcement authorities that they are not the individual who committed the crime.
For many victims, the first time they learn that someone has used their identity to commit traffic violations, misdemeanors or felonies is when they are picked up on an outstanding arrest warrant. As any victim of criminal identity theft who has been arrested on an outstanding warrant will attest, once the police are convinced they have arrested the criminal sought on a warrant, it is hard to convince them they have the wrong individual because police hear that claim from actual criminals every day.
For other victims, the first time they learn they have fallen prey to criminal identity theft is when they are turned down for a job due to the criminal record the identity thief has created in the victims name. Even if the victim is able to clear their name, the job they sought may have long since been filled.
Perhaps the worst aspect of criminal identity theft is that – similar to medical identity theft – it has received scant attention compared to other forms of identity crimes, and therefore is one of the most difficult forms of identity theft to prevent or detect.
While there is a significant segment of the consumer protection industry that has developed to assist in protecting financial services customer records such as credit reports, credit card transaction records, bank and investment account data, there are no specific services available to monitor and safeguard your criminal record. So, quite literally, the first time you realize someone has used your identity to commit crimes in your name may be as you hear the jail door slam behind you.
For more information on how to combat all forms of identity theft – including criminal – please visit our ID Theft Prevention, Protection and Recovery categories.