Can Someone Steal Your Identity From Your Driver’s License?
At the ITRC National Victim Assistance Call Center, our trained staff handles anywhere from 800 to well over 1,000 new victim cases each month. One of the more common questions our advisors are asked is exactly what can happen in terms of identity theft if your driver’s license falls into the hands of a would-be identity thief. In many cases it depends on how much your thief resembles you, if they have any expertise in fake ID production, and how willing they are to falsely represent themselves to law enforcement.
The most common thing that occurs in a scenario like this is a criminal racking up traffic violations on your record. Your driver’s license is appealing to certain criminals for a variety of reasons. If they get stopped for a moving violation, they don’t want it on their own record. In many cases your identity thief will be a career criminal, which means they may have a record that prevents them from getting a driver’s license of their own. If a thief manages to successfully represent themselves as you to a member of law enforcement, it can potentially result in criminal identity theft, which is one of the most traumatic types of identity fraud.
In scenarios like this, the thief has now pretended to be you at either a traffic stop or during a criminal arrest. You now have a court date to appear for a crime you didn’t commit. When you don’t show up to the court date that you were completely unaware of, a warrant is issued for your arrest. This warrant might be from an entirely different state, which means you likely won’t find out about it until one of two things happens.
First: you’re doing something that requires a background check. You’re applying for a new job, you’re moving into a new apartment. The landlord or employer informs you that they cannot hire or rent to you because you’re wanted for a crime you had no knowledge of. Second: you’re pulled over for driving 60 in a 55 zone and after handing the officer your information he asks you to step out of the car and places you under arrest. You have no idea why. It’s only later that you’re informed you’ve been arrested on a warrant you never even knew existed. If you find yourself in this scenario, there are a number of steps you should take in order to mitigate your risk for identity fraud.
The first suggestion someone in this situation should consider is to simply obtain a copy of your DMV driving record. In most states this can be purchased from the DMV for around ten bucks. This will let you see very clearly if anyone else is actively using or has used your driver’s license in the past. You will be able to see your history of citations, moving violations, and driving related arrests. If you see any evidence of fraud revolving around your driving record, you will need to file a fraud report with the DMV enforcement office in the state you live in. Some states will allow you to change your driver’s license number. Others have anti-ID theft measures like listing tattoos or distinguishing marks in your driving record or even prompting any officer who stops you to ask for a verbal password. This will vary from state to state so contact your local DMV and ask them for more information on their individual policies.
To clear up fraudulent activity already occurring on your driver’s license, I recommend the following steps:
Contact the DMV in your state and inform them of the situation. Report the bad record to local law enforcement. Don’t forget to contact your insurance company, your credit card providers, your banks and any other entities that might have your DL# on file for identification/verification purposes. The sooner you act the better, delaying the cleanup will only make it more difficult and potentially cause you problems down the road with other businesses or entitles you interact with. If you have additional questions about the cleanup process, please contact the ITRC National Call Center, toll-free at (888) 400-5530 or visit their website at www.idtheftcenter.org.