We’d hate for it to happen to any one of us.
Criminal identity theft is a serious crime which puts innocent people like you and me in terrible positions.
Often without us having any idea that we’re victims in the first place.
Criminal identity theft is a heinous act which can seriously jeopardize the lives of others.
You should not confuse it with identity theft or identity fraud in the more general sense of those terms.
Now, there’s a difference between identity theft and criminal identity theft.
Essentially, criminal identity theft is a form of identity theft, but it’s different in a crucial way.
What Is Criminal Identity Theft?
Criminal identity theft falls under the broader umbrella term of identity theft.
However, there’s a key difference here between the two terms.
What does a fraudster who engages in criminal identity theft do exactly?
Let’s break it down and make it easy to understand.
When this fraudster steals your identity and assumes it as their own, they don’t do what regular identity thieves do.
When identity thieves assume your identity, they usually access your bank account or apply for a credit card.
But criminal identity thieves work differently – they use your identity to commit crimes.
By doing this, they get away free of consequence, leaving you to deal with the fallout of their crimes.
How Does a Criminal Identity Thief Carry Out This Crime?
Once they’ve got your personal information:
- your name
- identification number
- Social Security number
- driver’s licens
- your date of birth
they give this to police officers.
In addition, they give this to other law enforcement officials if they are arrested or caught up in an investigation.
In some cases, criminal identity thieves also create fake identities for themselves by using your information.
As a victim of this crime, you’re usually left unaware of the situation.
Victims of criminal identity theft tend to know there’s a problem regarding their status only when an issue arises or when a negative action occurs.
For example, you may be stopped by a police officer at a routine traffic blockade.
In your mind, things should be smooth sailing because you’ve got nothing to worry about or hide, right?
Unfortunately, as victims or criminal identity theft often find out, there could be an outstanding bench warrant out for you due to crimes which you did not commit.
We’ll go further into the kinds of crimes that criminal identity thieves can commit on your name later.
It’s important to note that criminal identity theft is notoriously difficult to prevent.
Effects of Criminal Identity Theft
Of course, identity thieves commit these crimes for their own benefit.
While the victim of their identity theft is left to deal with the consequences of what happened.
You can stay with huge financial effects if an identity thief opened an account in your name and spent money which you cannot afford.
A case of criminal identity theft could leave you with a very different set of consequences to deal with.
It would be a very unfair and devastating situation to get ourselves in, that’s for sure.
Actions to Take in Case of Criminal Identity Theft
First, the actual perpetrator of the crime would get away without any repercussions while you end up with a tarnished criminal record.
Second, the consequences of being framed for a crime that you did not commit.
Especially when you might not even know this has happened until it’s too late, could be long-lasting.
These crimes could range from relatively less serious crimes to heinous ones.
For example, a fraudster could present a police officer with your information.
In case they’re pulled over for speeding, leaving you with a fine that you wouldn’t be aware of.
On the other hand, fraudsters could impersonate you.
This is if they have your personally identifiable information when being charged for sex crimes, violent crimes, or other serious illegal activities.
So, as a victim of criminal identity theft, you could stay with hefty fines and jail time in your name.
This is after the actual perpetrator doesn’t appear in court for the crime that they committed.
Worse, this could result in an arrest warrant.
Of course, having a criminal record is a bad situation to be in.
It’s even worse, and unjust, when this occurs to a victim of criminal identity theft who’s completely innocent.
A criminal record could present major hurdles for important aspects of your life that require background checks.
For instance, like trying to get into college or applying for a new job.
For more serious crimes committed in your name, this could even result in you losing your job.
It could also be ruining your reputation and leaving you with little hope of getting another job.
Have I Been a Victim?
It’s difficult to tell if you’ve been a victim of this crime, usually until it’s too late.
Look out for legal notices that get delivered to you to notify you of court appearance dates that you are completely unaware of, for example.
Check if your credit report shows up with any strange derogatory marks or they opened new lines of credit.
Also, if they refuse your checks, this could be a sign that somebody stole your identity to gain credit for criminal financial acts.
How to Keep Safe From Theft
Ensure that your driver’s license and Social Security Number are safe from prying eyes.
These are some of your most important documents – if they end up in the wrong hands, it could lead to disastrous consequences for you.
Also, with our digital lives, we give up a lot of our personal information online.
So ensure that you’re as digitally secure as possible while also managing paper records securely.
With more identity protection services out there today, this would be a wise investment.
While these services can’t protect you from identity theft, they can help you to deal with the fallout.
Say you became a victim of criminal identity theft.
You have to file a report with authorities immediately first of all.
Then contact companies where fraud occurred, place a fraud alert at a credit bureau, and change all your login information.
Then you’ll soon be able to clear your name.
Petr is a serial tech entrepreneur and the CEO of Apro Software, a machine learning company. Whenever he’s not blogging about technology for itechgyan.com or softwarebattle.com, Petr enjoys playing sports and going to the movies. He’s also deeply interested in mediation, Buddhism and biohacking.