When recovery is impossible
Most identity theft is undertaken for financial gain; thieves access your account information to ring up false charges and make withdrawals, or they establish new credit or bank accounts fraudulently in your name. In this series, we’ve talked about how to put a stop to this kind of theft and to recover while restoring your good name.
Unfortunately, not all ID theft is something you can fully address. Sometimes, ID theft is undertaken for non-monetary reasons. A criminal may use your identity to create fake IDs for illegal immigrants, including potential terrorists. People using other people’s identities may incur parking and/or traffic tickets that go unpaid. Felons may provide false ID to law enforcement to evade capture.
In these cases, the damage to the ID theft victim is severe. You can’t just call the credit bureaus and correct the record. When a criminal uses your name in one of these ways, the police will keep your identity on file as a “known alias,” and there’s very little chance they will correct the record.
Victims of this kind of ID theft often find themselves in handcuffs after routine traffic stops. Some people have even been jailed under false pretenses.
Unfortunately, there is no good solution. The police won’t remove your name from the criminal record because it will hinder their efforts to catch the real criminal. Usually, the District Attorney’s office will provide the ID theft victim with a document explaining the situation, but this rarely satisfies a police officer when confronted with an identity associated with a known felon. The ID theft victim will still be detained, handcuffed and even arrested while the police department sorts out the situation.
In these cases, the District Attorney and police departments suggest that the ID theft victim change his or her name, and they’ll even help to make that happen. This is not a great outcome, but it’s the best way to recover from this kind of ID theft.
That’s what makes this kind of ID theft the most insidious form; your ID is truly stolen by the criminal, and you are left to start over with a new name.
The potential for this kind of theft is why each of us must be diligent about protecting our own identities. See our series on ID theft prevention for more information and advice.
This post is part of a series on identity theft recovery:
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This post is part of the Identity Theft Recovery, a series of articles and resources designed to help people recover their lives after falling victims to identity theft. View the rest of the articles here.
For more information, download our free eBook, “ID Theft: Protecting and Restoring Your Good Name,” or check out our online course on Identity Theft Prevention, available here in our FIT Academy. For more information about National Protect Your Identity Week (NPYIW) or to find a local PYIW event near you, visit ProtectYourIDNow.org.