Car fraudulently registered in my name, going to court

Pipersville_CarolDecember 23, 2010

Any advice about this situation would be appreciated:

I was recently notified that my driving license was withdrawn in the state I lived in 10 years ago. Turns out that an 1979 Mercedes registered in my maiden name was ticketed for expired registration in 2007. Since the ticket was unpaid and the court appearance unattended, a bench warrant was issued against me.

I called the ticketing municipality for details, and the car was parked in front of a house I sold in 2000. I can only assume that the people who bought my house (and did own an old black Mercedes) somehow used my identity to register their car. Since the notifications had gone to my former address, I was completely unaware of the situation. They've since lost the house to foreclosure, and I have no idea where they are.

The day after I learned all this, my husband immediately went to the municipality to pay the required bail (!) to lift the warrant, and I now have to attend a court hearing to prove the car wasn't mine.

I'm puzzling about how to do this, and am wondering if I should meet with a lawyer. I can prove my state residency with income tax returns and various bills, but don't know if that's enough.

I've got the VIN number of the ticketed car, but according to Carfax it doesn't have enough digits.

I'm requesting a Motor Vehicles history for myself (from the state I used to live in), to see if any other cars have been fraudulently registered to me.

I've checked my credit report to make sure this identity theft didn't go any further, and thankfully everything is fine.

Any advice??

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LuAnn_in_PA

I'd get advice from a lawyer....

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 2:05PM
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sushipup1

I think you can handle this by yourself, really. Just come prepared to tell the judge what you said here (and don't go into more detail, just the facts).

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 2:48PM
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jaysgarden

Did you at one time own the 1979 Mercedes

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 1:37PM
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maifleur01

Good question because I knew a couple of students that purchased cars and did not care if the car was ticketed because they never registered the vehicle in their own names. I did not ask where they got the liscense plates and the police were not interested.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 10:35PM
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ScarletGray

Are you saying at one time you owned a 1979 Mercedes, sold it, and now you are receiving parking tickets on it or are you saying that you never knowingly owned a 1979 Mercedes and have been receiving parking tickets on it?

    Bookmark   December 25, 2010 at 7:48AM
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Pipersville_Carol

Just to clarify, I have never owned a black 1979 Mercedes.

A black 1979 Mercedes was ticketed for expired registration in 2007, parked in front of a house I had sold 7 years ago, in a different state. The registration listed me as the owner and used the address of the house I had sold. But I didn't own the car, never had, hadn't registered it, and didn't live in that state any more. Someone used my identity to register their car, without my knowledge.

I've decided to go ahead and speak to a lawyer about this. I could probably handle the court appearance without one, but want to see if there's anything I can do to protect myself from additional ID theft.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 3:25PM
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dreamgarden

"I've decided to go ahead and speak to a lawyer about this. I could probably handle the court appearance without one, but want to see if there's anything I can do to protect myself from additional ID theft."

I thought the BMV's computers were linked to a nationwide database.

How could the BMV not see that you have a current drivers license in another state?

Why would they allow this vehicle to be registered without the proper number of digits or correct address?

Perhaps someone at the BMV (where you used to live) knows more than they are letting on?

More food for thought......

Investigation reveals criminal backgrounds of BMV employees
March 3, 2004

A criminal investigation into the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in 2003 resulted in the arrests of four BMV employees who turned out to have criminal records. The Eyewitness News Investigators decided to find out how many other BMV workers had questionable backgrounds. They spent weeks running criminal checks on more than 600 Marion County BMV employees and found it's not uncommon."

I think hiring a lawyer is a good idea. I'd also freeze my credit report, file a police report and let my auto insurer know what is up, so its on the record in case you get pulled over or have any other ID theft related issues.

Links that might be useful:

www.wthr.com/story/1686281/investigation-reveals-criminal-backgrounds-of-bmv-employees?redirected=true

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 12:04PM
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Pipersville_Carol

After talking to a lawyer and the local police, I ended up calling the officer who wrote the actual summons 4 years ago. He pulled the file on the ticket and called me right back. Turns out he spotted the unregistered car in the driveway of the house I used to own, called borough hall and was told I was still the owner, and therefore wrote the ticket to me. It was just a mix up, not identity theft. Huge relief!

He said he'd dismiss the charges, but I still had to go to court and talk to the prosecutor and go before the judge. I'm now working to dismiss the $100 license re-instatement fee.

Boy, going to court was an eye-opener. People were there for habitually writing bad checks, driving while super drunk, beating up their girlfriends. It was a long, hot, grim evening.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 6:30PM
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sushipup1

Thanks for the update. It's very interesting to find out what really happened!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 6:39PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

Turns out he spotted the unregistered car in the driveway of the house I used to own

So it's illegal to park an unregistered vehicle on private property? That's interesting. I could see if it was parked on the street...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 8:33PM
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dreamgarden

"Turns out he spotted the unregistered car in the driveway of the house I used to own, called borough hall and was told I was still the owner, and therefore wrote the ticket to me. It was just a mix up, not identity theft. Huge relief!"

Amazing how a case of mistaken identity can cause so much trouble.

Glad it worked out.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 10:06PM
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joe_mn

no vehicle with expired non-current tabs/plates can be parked in a visible spot on private property in our town. it can be inside a garage and out of sight. any trailer, boat, camper, car must be parked on improved surfaces. not on grass/dirt. 4hr limit on city streets in 1 place. no overnight parking. car must be moved at least 1 block to be considered moved.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:25PM
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