Program for Identity Theft Victims Delayed

News News .Program for Identity Theft Victims Delayed
By Astrid Galvan / Journal Staff Writer on Tue, Jul 5, 2011
Mark Medley shows some of the extensive paperwork that resulted from someone stealing his identity in 2001. (DEAN HANSON/JOURNAL)
A decade after a man stole his identity, went on a crime spree and then to jail, Mark Medley is still haunted by crimes he never committed.

If a police officer scans his driver’s license, Medley will come up as an alias for a career criminal, and a job-related background check will always turn up dirty. That’s because the real offender, Mark William Elliott, used Medley’s identity when being arrested for various crimes.

Experts say such incidents are rising in the seemingly unstoppable world of identity theft.

But in 2009, the state Legislature passed a bill that created a unique “passport” program for people whose identities were stolen and used in criminal activity.

In a place where identity theft is so prevalent – New Mexico ranks seventh in the country, according to the Attorney General’s Office – the program was to be another recovery tool for victims.

But the program, which is supposed to provide victims with new driver’s licenses that have special coding, has yet to be implemented in many cities, notably in Albuquerque.

The program’s database is up and running, but several law enforcement agencies have not yet registered. And the Motor Vehicle Division has not started to produce the driver’s licenses, which will have codes like the ones for drivers with prescription glasses.

If a victim of identity theft gets pulled over by police, and their name comes up with warrants that don’t actually correspond to them, they could be arrested in a case of mistaken identity.

The driver’s license holdup, MVD director Keith Perry said, is due to staff changes, among other reasons. Perry said the program should have hit the ground running in the latter part of 2009,and that he expects it to get going this month. MVD first has to sign a contract with the company that prints driver’s licenses for them to develop the licenses.

The database for the program was created and will be administered by the AG’s Office, and each individual law enforcement agency will have to sign up to participate. An AG’s spokeswoman said there are 14 law enforcement agencies already registered for the program.

Albuquerque Police Department Deputy Chief Paul Feist said the department is working to get onboard, and should be fully integrated into the program by October.

“(Identity theft) occurs daily. It is very prevalent. It is something that everybody needs to be aware of,” Feist said. Even if identity-theft victims get their criminal records expunged by the courts, they will always be associated with their perpetrators because they’ll be listed as the perpetrator’s alias.

“The biggest thing is we don’t want somebody to sit in jail who is innocent,” Feist said.

For Medley, the program will be a great relief after years of struggling to clear his name.

“I have a three-ring binder full of information that I’ve accumulated over the years,” he said.

Medley’s driver’s license was stolen in August 2001 at a summer festival in Albuquerque, he said.

Within weeks, he started getting letters from criminal attorneys who were “representing” him, though Medley had never hired a lawyer or committed any crimes.

Elliott, who would go on to be convicted of identity theft, among various other charges, had given police Medley’s name when he was arrested, according to court records.

Elliott has an extensive criminal record and is currently serving time at a state prison in Las Cruces. His expected release date is in January 2012, a Department of Corrections spokesman said.

Medley still can’t clear his own name.

“With a background check at DPS, a 10-page report with different aliases and a laundry list of felonies and criminal charges come up on my record,” Medley said. “I’ve been told as long as it stays like that, there’s a possibility I could get arrested.”

And then there are the background checks that most employers conduct nowadays.

“My solid evidence says that every time I apply for a job, I’m rejected because of what’s going on with this situation,” he said.

Medley, whose current job is caring for his ailing mother, has started a business for identity theft victims, which he hopes to turn into a nonprofit.

For now, he’s filled out a police report and affidavit that has been put into the AG’s database.

He’s one of 227 identity-theft victims in the state already registered in the database and awaiting a new license, an AG’s Office spokeswoman said.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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The “Q” Lover 10 hours ago

This is such a terrible thing that has happened to this gentleman and the government is failing him. If there is attorney out there, who has a heart and happens to read this comment, help this man and get ABQ’s MVD off its rear and become compliant with state law regarding the driver’s license number issue. Help him get his “criminal record” wiped clean. Can he petition the court to change his name, social security number and driver’s license number, given the depth of his victim-hood? For God’s sake, it is preventing him from gaining employment. SOMEONE HELP THIS MAN!!!!!!!!!
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