ID theft protections won’t be immediate

SCAM WATCH

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

By: Ellen Marks, Albuquerque Journal

Sunday, January 12, 2020

One provision of New Mexico’s new and controversial expungement law gives victims of identity theft a new avenue when someone uses their name to commit a crime.

Victims whose identity has been stolen and whose names have been used when a criminal is arrested or booked into jail can now seek to have those false records expunged.

However, a local expert cautions that there are lots of “loose ends” and unanswered questions about the new law, and it might take some time before a petition for expungement is approved by a court order.

Mark Medley, head of ID Theft Resolutions in Albuquerque, recommends victims continue to immediately pursue a special “V endorsement” on their driver’s license under the state’s existing Identity Theft Passport program.

The endorsement shows law enforcement officers that someone they pull over is a victim of identity theft in case a background check pulls up crimes that were committed in their name. Victims’ names are entered into a state ID theft database, which is accessible only to law enforcement and the state’s Motor Vehicle Division.

And it takes only a couple of weeks, according to Medley’s website.

“That way, you’re protected until your records actually get expunged,” he says.

To seek expungement of arrest and court records, identity theft victims must file a petition with district court and provide information, such as details of the arrest and the case number in which they were falsely named.

Petition forms and other information can be found at nmcourts.gov/ expungement-forms.aspx.

Unlike other types of expungement requests that require a waiting period, ID theft victims can seek a court order at any time.

“It (the new law) is important because it finally gives the victims of identity theft an avenue where they can get their record cleared, especially in criminal identity theft when someone steals a person’s wallet and uses their identity when arrested,” Medley says.

Medley knows all about it. His wallet was stolen at a Summerfest event nearly 20 years ago and his identity was used by someone picked up on unrelated felony charges the next day. He spent years trying to clear his name.

A few years ago, he thought his troubles were over until he went to his usual polling place to vote. After numerous times of trouble-free voting, he was told his name had been deleted from the voter rolls — yet another mess he had to clear up.

Identity theft is a crime with a very long lifespan.