Quinton Graham has found out the hard way that clearing his name after a wrongful listing in the Texas criminal database is nearly impossible, reports the Dallas Morning News. He has been trying since 1999. After a brother used his identity when picked up for a traffic ticket, the intertwining of their records made it hard for Graham to find a job to support his five children, pursue his hobby collecting guns, and even get to know his neighbors.
Since 2001, the Department of Public Safety has processed 127 claims of misused identity and expunged 284 records because of misuse. Those numbers only hint at the extent of the problem; more people may not have discovered it’s already happened to them. If you are a victim, you’ll probably find out during a routine traffic stop or when you’re rejected for a job because of a background check, said Jay Foley of the California-based Identity Theft Resource Center. Clearing a criminal record is complicated because the data are sold and resold to private companies who make the erroneous information easily accessible on the Internet. The state criminal convictions database, which includes millions of records from law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts, suffers from holes because of poor reporting at the local level, the Morning News has documented. Graham believes his headache began in the early 1990s, when his older brother, Jason, used the name Quinton to evade a traffic ticket.