People steal identities for many different reasons, but nearly all are financially motivated. And then there are the despicable individuals who actually steal your identity with the intention of committing other crimes. Criminal identity theft has been very prevalent in our society since the millennia.
Definition of Criminal Identity Theft
When a thief steals personal information and then presents it as their own to law enforcement, someone has just become a victim. Frequently, the thief will present an identification card, with the victims name on it, to law enforcement. Even if the thief delivers the personal information (without an identification card) of another to the officer, a criminal identity theft has occurred.
How Does This Type of Theft Hurt You?
There are several ways this type of criminal identity theft can affect you. If Joe Criminal gets stopped by the police, he gives them an identification card with your name and other personal information on it. The officer issues Joe Criminal a ticket and, of course, Joe does not pay it, nor does he appear in court to refute the ticket. As a result, a warrant is issued for your arrest! Should you get stopped by the police, you will be arrested. Or, should you apply for a job and a background check is run, you will be denied that job. And there have even been situations where employers, running periodic background checks on their employees, have fired people due to false criminal records attributed to identity theft.
What To Do If You Are a Victim?
It is vital to clear your name as quickly as possible if you have become a victim of this type of identity theft. Your first step is to contact your local police department and file a report on the identity theft. In addition, contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the identity theft. Also, contact one of the 3 major credit bureaus and put a fraud alert on your credit report. Go here for a detailed list of what to do next.
How to Prevent Criminal Identity Theft
Of course, preventing this type of theft is a lot easier than clearing your name once your identity has been stolen. Protect your personal information and do not give out your social security number unless absolutely necessary. Shred all documents containing personal information and keep important papers in a safety deposit box or in a locked safe at home.
With over 15 million United States citizens losing their identities and $50 billion to identity theft yearly, this type of crime is more common than most people think, according to the FTC. So, be cautious and keep a tight reign on your personal information or you may end up being the next victim.