ID Theft Part IV
So what happens if a criminal uses your name and infromation when he or she gets arrested. There are procedures to correct your record within the criminal justice databases. These procedures can vary from state to state and even from county to county. Some states have enacted laws with special procedures for identity theft victims to follow to clear their names. You should check with the office of your state Attorney General , but you can use the following information as a general guidle.
If there are wrongfull criminal violations attributed to your name, contact the Police or Sheriff’s Department that originally took the report and made the arrest. Or contact the court agency that issued the warrant for the arrest. File an impersonation report with the Police or Sheriff’s Department or the court, and confirm your identity: Ask the Police/Sherifff’s Department to take a full set of fingerprints, photograph you, and make copies of your photo identification documents, like your driver’s license, passport, or travel visa. To establish your innocence, ask the Police to compare the prints and photographs with those of the imposter.
If the arrest warrant is from a state or county other than where you live, ask your local Police Department to send the impersonation report to the Police Department in the jurisdiction where the arrest warrant, traffic citation, or criminal conviction originated.
The law enforcement agency should then recall any warrants and issue a “clearance letter” or “certificate of release” (if you were arrested/booked). You’ll need to keep this document with you at all times in case you’re wrongly arrested or mis-identified again. Ask the law enforcement agency to file the record of the follow-up investigation establishing your innocence with the district attorney’s office and/or court where the crime took place. This will result in an amended complaint. Once your name is recorded in a criminal database, it’s unlikely that it will be completely removed from the official record. Ask that the “key name” or “primary name” be changed from your name to the imposter’s name, with your name noted as an alias.
You’ll also want to clear your name in the court records. To do so, you’ll need to determine which state law(s) will help you with this and how. If your state has no formal procedure for clearing your record , contact the D.A.’s office in the county where the case was originally prosecuted. Ask the D.A.’s office for the appropriate court records needed to clear your name. You may need to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you clear your name. Contact Legal Services in your state or your local bar association for help in finding an attorney.
Finally, conatact your state Department of Motor Vehicles to find out if your driver’s license is being used by the identity thief. Ask that your files be flagged for possible fraud.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that a creditor has forwarded for collection, even if those bills don’t result from identity theft.
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you in two ways:
* Write a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the debt collector receives your letter your letter, the company may not contact you again – with two exceptions: They can tell you there will be no further contact, and they can tell you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
* Send a letter to the collection agency, within 30 days after you received written notice of the debt, telling them that you do not owe the money. Include copies of documents that support your position. Including a copy (NOT original) of your Police report may be useful. In this case , a collector can renew collection activities only if it sends you proof of the debt.
If you don’t have documentation to support your position, be as specific as possible about why the debt collector is mistaken. The debt collector is responsible for sending you proof that you’re wrong. For example, if the debt you’re disputing originates from a credit card you never applied for, ask for a copy of the application with the applicant’s signature. Then, you can prove that it’s not your signature.
If you tell the debt collector that you are a victim of identity theft and it is collecting the debt for another company, the debt collector must tell that company that you may be a victim of identity theft.
While you can stop a debt collector from contacting you, that won’t get rid of the debt itself. To dispute the debt, it’s important to contact the company that originally opened the account, otherwise that company may send it to a different debt collector, report it on your credit report, or initiate a lawsuit to collect on the debt.
For more information, see Fair Debt Collection, a publication from the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Too be continued…