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Blog > Identity Theft > What is Criminal Identity Theft?
 August 31, 2022

What is Criminal Identity Theft?

man in handcuffs

Criminal identity theft happens when someone who is cited or arrested for a crime uses someone else’s personal information as ID. The result: a criminal record now exists in the name of the person whose ID was hijacked. This can have all sorts of repercussions, and none of them are good. Which is why we are here to review the various ways you can detect criminal identity theft and what you can do should it happen to you.

How a criminal gets your ID

Unfortunately, there are numerous ways a criminal can get your personal information such as:

  • Data breaches
  • Purchasing your Social Security number on the dark web
  • Wallet/purse/mail theft
  • Synthetic identity theft
  • ‘Phishing’ expedition
  • Data brokers selling your personal information

Personal ID theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the country and can create multiple problems for your credit and reputation. Here, we’re focused on a fraudster’s use of your ID when cited for a crime.

What are the warning signs of criminal identity theft?

Here are the signs that a thief has used your ID when cited or arrested:

  • The police contacts, arrests or cites you for a crime that you did not commit.
  • You are denied housing, employment, admission to a school or the military
    because of a criminal record that you do not have.
  • The government places you on the sex offender registry for a crime that you did not commit.
  • The state suspends your driver’s license because of a crime that you did not commit.
  • Your passport has been denied or revoked because of a crime that you did not commit.
  • The government threatens deportation for a crime that you did not commit.
  • You are being denied citizenship because of a crime that you did not commit.

Establishing your innocence

Once you have determined that you are the victim of criminal ID theft, the first thing you’ll want to do is establish your innocence by:

  • Contacting the police department that is in the jurisdiction reporting the crime.
  • File a police report with that police department stating you are a victim of identity theft.
  • Also file a separate ID theft report with the Federal Trade Commission at
  • Ask the police for a copy of all arrest records using your information.
  • Offer to provide fingerprints, photographs and identifying documents so your information can be compared to what is on those arrest records.
  • Ask the police for a ‘clearance letter” or ‘certificate of release’ to declare your innocence. Ask if your clearance can be updated in all law enforcement data banks. Keep this ‘clearance letter’ on hand in case those updates take time.
  • Contact your state attorney general’s office to make sure your criminal record, caused by the ID theft, is expunged.
  • If your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, thanks to criminal ID theft, be sure to contact the DMV, as well.

Protecting your personal information

The above article reviews all you should do just to correct the law enforcement and judicial problems caused by criminal ID theft. However, once your ID has been compromised, fraudsters can also wreak havoc on your credit, banking, tax returns, Social Security, even the deed to your own home. This is where IDShield comes in. We offer complete, best-in-class personal ID protection wherever you go, along with full-service ID restoration if theft occurs. Please pick the ID theft protection plan that works for you.

Frequently asked questions

What is criminal identity theft?

Criminal identity theft happens when a fraudster who is cited or arrested for a crime uses someone else’s ID. If you use the term criminal identity theft meaning theft of your personal ID for credit or banking fraud, that would be correct, as well.

When does criminal identity theft occur?

Criminal ID theft occurs when a thief gets their hands on your personally identifiable information like Social Security number, driver’s license number, or passport information. This can happen via data breach, wallet theft, ‘phishing’ scams—fraudsters have many ways to co-opt your ID. Recognizing identity theft early is essential to maintaining your credit and reputation.

What is an example of your identity theft?

You are pulled over for a minor traffic violation, and then have your license revoked because of a DUI that is on your record—but you did not commit. If this happens to you, offer fingerprints, photos—any information law enforcement can use to establish your innocence, and report the ID theft. To prevent this from happening, here are some essential tips for protecting yourself from identity theft.


Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to legal and identity theft services through membership-based participation. IDShield is a product of PPLSI. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide professional advice, render an option, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent and professional advice. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be third-party paid contributors. All information by authors is accepted in good faith; however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information. 


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