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Criminal Identity Theft

What Is Criminal Identity Theft?

Criminal identity theft occurs when an imposter gives another person’s name and personal information, such as a Social Security number, driver’s license number, and date of birth, to a law enforcement officer upon arrest or during an investigation. Or the imposter may give to law enforcement a counterfeit driver’s license or identification card containing another person’s information.

In a typical situation, an individual stopped for a traffic violation, for shoplifting, or another misdemeanor, claims to not be carrying identification. He or she then gives the identifying information of another person to the officer. Often this information is of a family member, roommate, or friend.

In misdemeanor situations, the cited or arrested individual is usually released and told to appear in court when notified. The imposter does not appear in court, however, and at that date a warrant for the arrest of the innocent person is issued. The next time the innocent person – the criminal identity theft victim – is stopped for a broken tail light, the officer runs a search of the criminal records files and discovers the outstanding warrant. The victim is often brought to the police department and booked, even jailed.

Another typical scenario in which the victim discovers that he or she has a wrongful criminal record is when applying for a job – when a background check is conducted and the individual is denied employment. The inability to find work can go on for years.