questionshow do i fix a case of mistaken identity?


Legally change your name.

I suggest "Raymond Luxury Yacht". It's pronounced "Throat Warbler Mangrove"


I would call whatever number there is at the paper that specializes in "human interest" stories, and see if they can do an article on it. This will focus attention on you being an upstanding citizen-type person, and that you are not the same person as the miscreant who shares your name. If the newspaper doesn't respond, there's also the local newz on the TV that loves that kind of story as a filler.

Trust me, taking it public will help. If you involve the newspaper (who printed your address by mistake), they'll be more motivated to get it right (because they're now on your side). Remember when you seek them out to be diplomatic, not referring to the fact that they got their facts wrong, but that you believe they can help you to correct the misinformation that keeps getting out there.

I've seen this before, sadly. The newz folks just don't seem to make the effort to fact check, nowadays.


I had a problem years ago with someone sharing my first and last name, same street and town.
He was a deadbeat. I was continually getting threats from credit card companies where I had never had their cards. They couldn't believe that they really had the wrong person - after all, they started out asking for me by name, and since that was me it had to be my unpaid card! Fixing those required me to send notarized affidavits listing my SSN to prove that I wasn't the account holder.

Then I moved away. For years, the state kept sending me threatening letters since I failed to pay child support. Oh, and tax bills for property I didn't own. Just tons of fun.


I had the police call me one night to warn me because my husband had been telling people he was going to kill me - I wasn't married at the time. I argued with them forever trying to explain I wasn't the person they were looking for, and eventually we figured out the other woman and I shared different middle names (and ages, she's about 10 years older than me). After I got married and changed my name took the dog to the vet's office only to find out there was yet another woman in town who shared my new name, they would always pull up her cat's account.

Then the first lady hit the lottery for millions and everyone thought it was me (too bad it wasn't, right?). I had tv people calling, news people at my door, etc. I had already changed my name since I had been married for at least 2-3 years but they still came after me for news stories and strangers wanting money.

Good luck with keeping youself separated from this other person!


I've had a couple of experiences with the same problem but NOT to these extents.

I actually worked 50 feet from someone with the same name/rank while in my first unit in the Air Force. Was funny to get the wrong calls occasionally.


For the latest story I would contact the paper and make them publish a retraction. If they have to go thru the hassle of making the correction it hopefully will make people aware of the problem, this is especially true if its a small local paper.

The drivers license being suspended I find very odd since moving violations are tied directly to drivers license number, not name. If it is a parking ticket it is tied to license plate number which should not be to your address. I am not sure the best way to correct this however there is something fishy going on with that. I am not sure the best way to investigate that yourself but maybe a call to your local police department would get things in the right direction. Anything involving auto infractions should not create a mix up because of the same name since they use different identifiers.


@purplefeather: I just found out I was getting my Ph.D in Neuroscience a couple weeks back when I read the local newspaper, sounds like I got a little luckier with my counterpart than you did :)


I don't want to say this, but I think that @kylemittskus has the right idea: time to lawyer up. You may be able to get this cleared up on your own. But I doubt that you will be able to get all of the little bits and pieces of this removed. For instance:

There is now a record of YOU being arrested. This will pop up in background checks that are undertaken by landlords, future employers, and future spouses. You could easily lose out on a job because of this. These bad checks may well also bite you in the rear end: you may not get loans, or if you do the rates could be higher.

A lawyer may be able to find ALL of the places these nimrods spread this wrong information and get it changed. You may be surprised how fast places move when presented with a letter from an attorney, vice getting one from you ([yawn] Another letter from a mad consumer..[shredshredshred]). Also, you may even have cause of action against the paper and police for libel, depending upon how lazy they were.


I'm with team "lawyer up" on this one.


@raider9924: The driver's license is strange to me as well. I'm assuming that whoever put them in the computer was just being lazy and did a name match instead of drivers license #. They've listed off the tickets to me, and I'm sure I never did any of that.

I didn't want to get a lawyer because it just irks me to have to pay someone just to prove I haven't done anything wrong, but it may be for the best. I'm going to call the newspaper today and ask that they print a correction and a little note explaining to my neighbors that I am not passing off bad checks.

It really does suck because I live in a small town and everyone knows everyone here. And a lot of busybodies read the jail docket in the paper and there's my name and address for all to see.


@purplefeather: My fear with the ticket mix-up is could this be a case of identity theft. Since you stated you spoke to the DA and you are all clear I assume that means this was looked into and was just lazy record entry and not a case of identity theft where the other person is using your drivers license number but changing the personal data (age, height) to fit their profile.

If you haven't I would run a credit report on myself at this point and make sure that all this is just lazy bookkeeping/reporting and not the use of your personal information with these indiscretions. Better to be safe then sorry later on.


@raider9924: Very good point. I'll get my credit report and ask around for a good attorney. It may cost me less in the long run to pay a lawyer to make sure everything's okay.


You may want to talk to your local state attorney (or district attorney or whatever the "official prosecutor" is called in your jurisdiction) to ask for a letter noting that you are not the individual arrested for XXX on whatever the date was and keep it with you at all times. I've read several news accounts of other people having to resort to this and that it was a fairly helpful tactic.

Your biggest concern should be getting stopped by police for something minor and getting arrested because there's an outstanding warrant for the other person. With a letter from the SA's office provided to them, law enforcement is (1) offered an easy way to verify that you're not who they want, and (2) offered a casual heads-up that you're prepared to take civil action if they don't follow up to verify who you are.

Most of us share names with others; I have to alert my eye doctor and pharmacist to double check whose records they pull. You situation is radically more complicated!


Another point: contact the news editor and/or assignment editor for every local media you can find, especially newspapers and TV stations. Alert them to the problem this has caused you and what they will do to prevent future erroneous errors of identity. Take notes! Be obvious about taking notes! Be sympathetic to them, because cuts in staff and resources often mean "researchers" don't exist and reporters, short on time and assistants, are prone to googling for additional info on their story subjects, but also let them know that you'll hold them responsible for any damage to your good name if they fail to take proper precautions, especially since you've been kind enough to meet with them about it. News folks want to get it right; they hate having to make on-air and in-print corrections. The trick is to be sweetly threatening, in a Southern Belle, smiley sort of way. Velvet glove, iron fist; I'm sure you know the drill.




Having said all this, you probably should meet with an attorney for advice on possible future criminal/legal complications and civil damages regarding harm to your reputation and good name. Once you've met with the media folks, they no longer have the defense of having made errors in good faith.

(When I was doing lots of media work, reporters loved me because when I'd call about an out error I'd always laugh off their question of whether I wanted an in-print correction. "Oh, no," sez I, "it's a fairly minor thing; I'd just like it to be accurate next time." Consequently, on the very rare times there was a major blooper, they were very cooperative about corrections.)

Your goal, though, is not to have any such confusion again. Ever. Let the media people know that if they can't reach you for a confirmation, they can contact your attorney. Give them her card.


Start calling yourself "The Dude" and drink white russians.


@boydrew: I still say lawyer up, but if that option doens't work, then absolutely this!


I have a third generation name and live in the same city as my Father (Jr), and late Grandfather(Sr) lived. My dad and I constantly get mixed up, luckily we both have good credit, great driving records, and no criminal records. I can't imagine how it would be if one of us was the other way around!

I'd just take @magic_caves advice and get an official letter from the DA with your DOB, DL#, and possibly SSN and carry it with you wherever you go. I wouldn't recommend a lawyer right now, unless you plan on suing for damages (which you could at this point.) You're not technically in any legal trouble, and as long as you play it safe and stay honest you will hopefully not have any other repercussions from this. Keep us updated! A lot of people have provided some great advice and I'm sure would like some feedback :) Let us know how the newspaper and DA goes. Best of luck to you!


Just to chime in, I wouldn't just ask for a retraction from the newspaper. I'd try to get another article done. Reason for this is because retractions get buried in the middle of fine print and the people who matter will never notice it.


I would suggest putting freezes on your credit files. If there are problems it may keep them from getting worse while you are correcting them. If there are no problems, freezing the reports will help keep problems from starting. Also make sure you tell the credit agencies you want to opt-out of your credit reports being given out to companies who use them for so-called promotional purposes.


To permanently fix this situation I believe @magic cave has the solution. It may cost you some out of pocket now but could save you much more down the line. Hope you get it corrected soon!


similar thing happens to me every few years. Some asshat with the same first and last name who also lives here in California (different middle initial though) has been driving on a suspended license, committing hit & run on a parked car while driving a stolen car, failing to appear several times, and on & on. His birthday is 10 or so years after mine, his driver's license number is way different, he does all this crap in So-cal while I live near Sacramento, and of course his social security number is totally different.

I get letters every few years from the franchise tax board who say they are going to start garnishing my wages to pay for the court-ordered restitution for various crimes this dude has committed. I call, and end up having to call the state's franchise tax board, santa barbara courts, san luis obispo courts, and several other local so-cal agencies, usually spending 4-8 hours over 2-3 days to clear things up.



(cont.) turns out the idiots in charge of california courts and tax agencies decided that any 2 criteria matching are good enough to decide I'm this guy. They have about a DOZEN things that can match up, SS#, DL#, first name, last name, middle name, DOB, address, etc, so since my first name and last name are the same, I'm screwed.

Any moron could look at all the stats they have access to and easily see I'm not the same person, but no, they decided that an automated system is a better idea than having a couple of people verify this $hit before they start hassling people.

I also agree with @magiccave, you need to make sure you get some sort of documentation from a law enforcement agency explaining the situation. One day you're going to get pulled over and arrested for outstanding warrants if you can't prove it's a mistake right there on the spot. And you'll need to keep those documents with you for the rest of your life unfortunately....


I think I'll change my name to that old Superman nemesis...Mr. Mxyzptlk. :)