Right now, in your wallet, there’s a single card that can reveal a significant amount of personal information about you to an identity thief — enough to make purchases, open bank accounts, or cash checks in your name. It’s your driver’s license.
In most states, a driver’s license contains not just your name and address, but also your birthdate and identifying characteristics like height and weight (plus a photo). The magnetic strip or barcode on the back is like a credit card, potentially giving anyone who swipes your license through a scanner even more information.
A Growing Issue
Think back to the September 2017 Equifax data breach. While the number of records personally identifiable information initially compromised was shocking enough, the numbers keep rising. On May 7, 2018, Equifax executives revealed the true scope of the breach. In their statement for the record to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said that 17.6 million consumers had their driver’s license number exposed, and another 38,000 people had their full driver’s license (which was uploaded as images) compromised.
Cybercriminals sell Social Security ($1) numbers, credit card information ($5), and other pieces of PII, cybercriminals sell driver’s licenses on the Dark Web for about $20 dollars apiece.
Speak Up to Protect Yourself
Many times, retail customers are asked for their ID to purchase or return an item, and then surprised when the cashier swipes the card instead of using it for simple verification. In other instances, doctor’s offices or financial services may request to make a photocopy of your driver’s license. It’s important to understand where it is appropriate to allow your license to be scanned or copied, and when it’s okay to protest.
When your license is scanned, depending on state laws, the merchant (or third-party system) collects a digital record of your personal information. Obviously, this shouldn’t be necessary to make routine purchases or gain entry to an age-restricted event. You should only allow your license to be scanned when required by law, i.e. dealing with police or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy.
This might seem like a hassle, but your identity is worth the hassle. Just because license scanning and copying have become common practice doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be cause for concern. If you feel like your information is being collected unnecessarily, speak up — you could be preventing driver’s license identity theft. And remember, IdentityForce is here to help protect your identity; monitoring your information, including your driver’s license, and alerting you to any suspicious activity.
Getting started is easy – simply sign up for a free trial of our identity protection services.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Ken Hawkins.