IMG_6471The issue of identity theft has becoming an increasingly common problem in America. Today, we discussed this issue on the Shay and Shine Morning Show on 103.3 FM. If you have a similar problem as the caller today, follow this advice to get the situation resolved.

QUESTION: My cousin has been using my name when he gets pulled over. He has gotten several tickets in my name and now my license is suspended. What can I do?

ANSWER: You want to get on top of this right away to avoid future damage to your driving record. First, DO NOT just pay the tickets to get rid of them. Paying the moving violation tickets without the tickets being amended may cause you to incur points on your driving record. The accumulation of points may revoke your license for up to a year.  Follow these steps to get the situation resolved.

1. File a police report as soon as you realize that your identity, driver's license, or ID card has been compromised, lost, or stolen. Make sure you tell the police the identity of person you think may be responsible.   Save the police report to give to your attorney.

2. Hire an attorney to help you come up with a game plan. If your license is suspended because of unresolved tickets, you will not be eligible for a hardship license in Missouri. An attorney with experience in complex license reinstatement (as we do!) will be able to prioritize your traffic tickets to get your license reinstated as quickly as possible. When a person comes to our office with this issue, we immediately create a License Reinstatement Action Plan. We evaluate his/her driving record and determine which cases need to be addressed most quickly.

3. It is also a great idea to consult a bonding company to search for additional warrants that are not suspending your driver's license. Nonmoving violations such as "improper tags" may not show up on your driving record, but will still have a warrant attached to them. A bonding company will have access to warrant databases for law enforcement agencies in Missouri and Kansas. Consult with your attorney before deciding to post a bond for a warrant.

4. Make sure to stay in contact with your attorney throughout the process. The attorney will need additional information about where you were when the identity thief received the tickets. Gather as much evidence as you can to establish that you did not get the tickets. Witness contact information, plane tickets, tickets for events that you attended, pictures, videos and social media posts are all pieces of evidence that can be used in trial to prove your innocence.

5. Make sure to keep all of your receipts!  Account for time that you had to take off work, expenses for childcare, gas, attorney's fees, court costs, and fines.  These items will be helpful when it is time to recoup your losses from the person who used your identity.

6. After you get your cases resolved, the court will give you compliance letters to take to the DMV to reinstate your license.  Take these compliance letters with $22 per compliance letter to the DMV to get your license reinstated. Just because you receive the compliance letters, does not mean your license is valid.  Your license will remain suspended until you turn in the compliance letters with the reinstatement fees.

7. After you resolve the traffic and license issues, you can file a civil lawsuit against the identity thief to be reimbursed for your expenses. If the amount you are seeking is less than $5,000, you can file a small claims suit. Be sure to bring copies of the documentation you have been gathering through the process to court. You do not need an attorney to represent you, but can hire one if you choose.  If the amount you are seeking is over $5,000, you may need to hire an attorney to represent you in court.

If you are going through this or a similar situation, please call our office for help at 816-359-1877.  Tune in to 103.3 JAMZ every  Tuesday at 7:35 AM to hear attorneys from our office LIVE ON AIR giving free legal advice and answers to listener's legal questions.