You’ve probably heard all the warnings about stolen identity. In fact, you probably even know to shred your credit card bills and other important, identifying documents that you no longer need. Did you know, however, that there’s a new threat- a threat that goes beyond just stealing your identity and going on a spending spree until you alert the credit card companies. That new threat is thieves stealing your identity and using it to buy or lease a shiny, new vehicle.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, this crime has been on the rise in recent years. These criminals will get a car in your good name, never make a payment on it beyond the first- if they even have to make that- and then drive off, ruining your credit in the process. These types of criminals are especially hard to catch too since they usually export the cars outside of the United States for a nice profit.
To make matters worse, it can be hard to prove your innocence in this circumstance. One of the big reasons why is that the crime often isn’t realized until well after it’s committed. Usually, it’s not noticed until that first vehicle payment comes due. Sometimes, the first time victims find out they’re in trouble is when they get a “failure to insure” notice stating that they should have insurance on the vehicle they supposedly own.
To make matters worse, it’s up to you to prove that you didn’t purchase the vehicle. Of course, it’s better to avoid the circumstance in the first place. One thing you can do to help mitigate the risk is to check your credit report regularly and to handle any untrue allegations on that report immediately. Car thieves will often make other purchases using your name first or, at the very least, will make inquiries into your credit to determine how likely you are to qualify for a car. If you can figure out what’s going on in those early stages, you might just stand a chance of stopping the car theft from happening in the first place.
If worst comes to worst and you do find yourself a victim of this heinous crime, the first step is to file a police report. Then, contact the department of motor vehicles, the dealership from which the vehicle was bought, and your insurance company. You can expect to deal with hassle from all of these agencies, but unfortunately, that’s just part of clearing your name. Having the police report on file will help with the process. In fact, in most cases, these organizations won’t even deal with or assist you unless you have one.