Impersonating someone to a government agency or hiring another to carry out this ruse could result in a criminal prosecution.
The operators of BNT Investigations, which was not licensed in Washington state, where they were based, plead guilty to crimes that carry a minimum 2-year sentence. They “assumed the individuals’ identities and persuaded government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration and state labor departments to hand over tax, wage and other confidential records.” Private investigators from various states who submitted personally identifying information to the firm were also indicted and are still awaiting trial.
Private investigators, insurance companies and attorneys who hire others obtain personal information should confirm that they do not get unauthorized personal information from a government agency. Other laws invoke penalties for using subterfuge (not necessarily impersonating the subject) to secure telephone records from the provider or financial information from banks and account holders. Our clients don’t necessarily know this. It’s our job to educate them.