Identity theft victims in Kentucky can breathe a little easier, at least if one member of the state legislature has his way. Rep. Reggie Meeks has introduced a bill that will help victims of criminal identity theft to expunge their records and recover any financial losses from it.

Criminal identity theft is an intriguing form of the crime. When a thief steals someone’s identity, most victims think about securing their credit reports and monitoring their financial accounts, but they often overlook the possibility that the thief will use their identity for other nefarious purposes.

The scenario often plays out like this: the identity thief is stopped by police for something minor, such as a traffic violation or a misdemeanor crime. He provides the officers with your name and identifying information, meaning that “you” have just broken the law.

When the traffic ticket goes unpaid or “you” fail to appear in court for the crime, a bench warrant is issued for your arrest. Unlike television crime dramas, though, this type of warrant isn’t a major event; law enforcement officers have their hands full protecting the public from serious crimes, and they tend not to hunt someone down over an unpaid traffic ticket.

Often, no one follows through until the next time there’s a reason for your name to come up on radar. It could be that you are pulled over for a traffic stop of your own, or perhaps you’re applying for a new job and must pass a background check. That’s when this bench warrant—which could be years’ old by now—will crop up.

While that’s a typical situation, some victims’ experiences are far more serious and immediate. Rep. Meeks explained that the bill he introduced came about after learning of an innocent man who lost his job after a felony car theft warrant was issued, all because someone had used his identity when he was arrested.

Should this legislation pass, victims of identity theft in Kentucky will have a far more streamlined process for removing faulty charges from their records and clearing their names. If they’ve incurred any monetary losses as a result of criminal identity theft—like having their car insurance rates go up after someone got a speeding ticket in their name—then they will be eligible for refunds of those amounts once their records are expunged.

There’s no reason to wait for new legislation in order to protect yourself, however. If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, it’s important that you file a police report as soon as you discover the crime. That way, the process of clearing your name of any fraudulent criminal charges can be easier.

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