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Driver’s License Fraud & Identity Theft

mother giving daughter car keys

In your wallet right now, there is one card that can reveal a significant amount of your personally identifiable information (PII) to an identity thief — your driver’s license. 

In most states, a driver’s license contains your name, address, birthdate and other identifying characteristics like your height, weight and profile photo. The magnetic strip or barcode on the back of a license works similar to a credit card and can potentially give anyone who swipes your license through a scanner even more personal information. Exposure of this sensitive data can leave you more susceptible to an identity crime and driver’s licenses are incredibly valuable to cybercriminals.  

How valuable is that information? Stolen bank account logins sell for $65 on the dark web, whereas a United States driver’s license can go for more than $150. 

Speak up to protect yourself

While shopping, retail employees may ask for your ID to complete a purchase or return an item, and it can be surprising when the employee swipes your license for verification. Doctor’s offices, financial services providers and others may request a photocopy of your driver’s license. Because of the opportunity for misuse, it is important to understand where it is appropriate to allow your license to be scanned or copied, and when it is acceptable to protest.   

When your license is scanned, the merchant or third-party system collects a digital record of your personal information. You should only allow your license to be scanned when required by state law, like when dealing with police or picking up a pharmacy prescription. Scanning your ID should not be necessary for routine purchases or entry into an age-restricted event — and so it is okay to decline in those instances.   

These precautions might seem like a hassle, but your identity protection is worth it. Just because license scanning and copying have become common practice does not mean you shouldn’t be cautious. If you feel like your information is being collected unnecessarily, speak up — you could be protecting yourself from potential driver’s license identity theft.