At the ITRC, our trained staff handle anywhere from 900 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 truth is, an imposter can use your Driver’s License (DL#) or State ID number to impersonate you. No, they cannot open a credit card or mortgage account but they can write your driver’s license number on a check, give your license number (without the actual license) to a police officer at a traffic stop, or doctor/manufacture a license with your number to pass off to those who require ID (bars, employers, police, etc.)
The thing you need to keep in mind is that the only piece of information that is needed is your DL# or state ID#. Your name, address, DOB etc. is not needed to steal your identity.
How Can I Minimize My Risks?
The best thing to do is safeguard your driver’s license information. Don’t allow anyone but government officials to scan/swipe your license unless they are required to by law (buying medicine, checking ID at a bar, employment, rental property, etc.)
You also don’t want to have your license number automatically written at the top of your checks because if they were to end up in the wrong hands, it could result in years of check fraud problems. Check fraud is a felony and could lead to a warrant issued if you are not careful.
If your license or state ID is lost or stolen make sure you report this to the police, either in a theft report or an incident report. Afterward, you’ll want to speak to your state’s DMV or licensing agency and ask them to place a flag on your license number. This will alert law enforcement to be extra careful in identifying a person they may have pulled over.
How Can I Find If Someone is Using My Driver’s License?
Do not rely on courts or private companies to inform you when a fraud takes place. Most victims don’t find out their information has been used until they 1) get a background check for a job or government assistance 2) are told by a police officer during a traffic stop/border crossing/ or a visit to their house or place of work 3) are told by their bank that they can no longer have an account due to too many bad checks.
If you suspect that your documentation has been used, you can look into it in three ways:
- A Background Check
Police, government agencies, and financial institutions report activity to background check companies. Talk to your local law enforcement about what companies are reputable and accurate for background checks, especially when it comes to criminal activity.
NOTE: Your local law enforcement will not just give you a background check. They will only do so if you can show that fraud has taken place.
- Official Driving Record
The agency for your state that handles driver’s licenses (usually the DMV, BMV, etc.) keeps a record of all traffic violations associated with your license number. You can ask them to mail you a copy and then look it over for anything suspicious. Keep in mind that most states charge a fee (usually around $10).
- Consumer Reports from the Check Verification Companies
Like the Credit Reporting Agencies, the Check Verification Companies keep track of what checks have been written and attributed to your driver’s license. You can get your reports for free from all three agencies.
– ChexSystems (800) 428-9623
– Certegy (800) 437-5120
– TeleCheck (800) 366-2425
What Do I Do If I’m a Victim?
The first thing to remember is not to panic.
If you are arrested or find out about criminal charges on your record read Solution 06 Clearing Criminal Identity Theft. Make sure your fingerprints and picture are taken to be compared to those of the thief.
If you discover fraudulent checks being written under your license number Fact Sheet 126 – Checking Accounts and Check Fraud has the steps for you to take.
Always file a police report with your local police department and make sure they notate your license number in their report. You can use that later to change your license number.
Remember, the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Advisors are here for you if you have further questions or find you may be a victim of identity theft. Please contact us using the Live Chat function at the bottom of every page or call us toll-free at (888) 400-5530.
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