Your driver’s license contains personally identifiable information (PII) that criminals can use to commit identity theft. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than 150 million U.S. driver’s licenses were compromised from 2017 to 2021. For this reason, it’s a good idea to protect your driver’s license number from criminals.
Here’s how a driver’s license can be used for identity theft and tips on how to help protect yourself.
How Do I Know if Someone Is Using My Driver’s License Number?
When someone uses your driver’s license to commit identity theft, the warning signs won’t show up immediately. You may not uncover fraud until you renew your license, spot something suspicious on your credit report or a background check, or get contacted by the police. Here are some ways to proactively check if someone is using your driver’s license:
- Conduct a background check on yourself to look for suspicious activity.
- Check your credit reports to look for inaccurate information.
- Request your official driving records and review them for activity you don’t recognize.
What Can Someone Do with Your Driver’s License Number?
Sell Your ID on the Dark Web
The dark web is part of the internet that can’t be accessed by traditional search engines. Criminals who obtain your driver’s license number may sell it to buyers on the dark web.
Driver’s License Fraud
Criminals may use your driver’s license number to forge counterfeit driver’s licenses and other forms of ID, using your PII with their own photo. This allows them to assume your identity during traffic violations, when evading police, and even when caught committing serious crimes. This type of fraud can result in a tarnished driving record, erroneous tickets or arrest warrants, and serious legal or financial troubles.
Create a Synthetic Identity
Synthetic identity theft occurs when thieves gain access to a legitimate Social Security Number (SSN) and combine it with other fabricated or stolen personal information, such as your driver’s license number, to forge a fictitious identity that appears legitimate. Resolving synthetic identity theft can be challenging because it’s difficult to uncover and track.
Commit Identity Theft
Fraudsters can use your driver’s license number to assume your identity and use it for financial gain. They may open bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards, make unauthorized purchases, and engage in other forms of fraud using your name and PII.
Commit Mail Fraud
Criminals can use your driver’s license number to change your mailing address and reroute your mail to an address they control. This allows them to gain access to sensitive information, including bank statements, credit card statements, and other financial documents they can exploit.
What To Do if Someone Has Your Driver’s License Number
Notify Your Local Law Enforcement Agency
Contact law enforcement and file a police report if your driver’s license is stolen. Keep a copy of the police report for your records, as you may need it to dispute fraud later. Some states may need you to contact other government agencies, so make sure you’re in compliance with the requirements for reporting a missing or stolen license in your state.
Notify the Local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Notify the DMV so that they can place a “Verify ID” flag on your driver’s license number, which alerts law enforcement that your license may be stolen if a criminal tries to use it. You should also request a replacement license and copies of your driving record to see if any tickets or traffic violations were issued in your name.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report
You can place a fraud alert on your credit reports to warn creditors that your identity may have been stolen when your SSN is used to apply for a new line of credit. Contact one of the major credit bureaus –Experian®, Equifax®, or TransUnion® – to initiate the fraud alert (the bureau you contact will notify the other two). Creditors will need to verify your complete identity before extending credit in your name.
Report Identity Theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
When you become the victim of identity theft, you can report it to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov or by calling 877-382-4357. You will receive an FTC report that can help you dispute any fraud that occurs.
Check Your Mailing Address
The United States Postal Service (USPS) sends an official Change-of-Address (COA) Validation Letter whenever they receive a request to change an address, which can tip you off that someone is committing fraud. You can also contact the USPS to proactively find out if anyone made a change to your address. You can dispute a fraudulent change-of-address order online or by visiting your post office in person.
Run a Background Check on Yourself
There are many reputable online background check companies that can provide you with comprehensive reports containing arrests, convictions, debts in collections, and warrants that are associated with your identity. If you find any inaccurate information in your background check, you will need to report it to the appropriate authorities and provide evidence that fraud has occurred.
Review Your Social Security Statement for Signs of Fraud
You can check your Social Security statement online by opening an account with the Social Security Administration (the SSA also mails Social Security statements to workers age 60 and over once a year). Review the statement for unfamiliar or unauthorized earnings, benefits,, and other discrepancies. Immediately report signs of fraud to the SSA.
Regularly Check Your Credit Report and Bank Statements
Regularly check your credit report and monitor your bank account, credit card, and other financial account statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate and authorized. If you notice any discrepancies or signs of fraudulent activity, promptly report them to the credit bureaus and financial institution.
Scan the Dark Web to See If Your Driver’s License Numbers are Online
Dark web scans search the internet to look for a user’s PII, including driver’s license numbers, and alert the user if they find sensitive information. If any matches are found, you will need to take immediate action to protect your identity and prevent further misuse of your information.
Consider Getting Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection provides an additional layer of security by monitoring your personal information for signs of fraud and criminal activity. IdentityIQ plans are designed to give you peace of mind with the following features:
- Identity protection that tracks your credit, SSN, mailing address, and criminal record.
- Credit monitoring that alerts you with significant changes on your credit report and provides regular access to your credit reports and credit scores.
- Dark web monitoring that scours the dark web and alerts you whenever your PII is found.
- Identity theft insurance, underwritten by AIG, that covers losses and out-of-pocket expenses resulting from identity theft.
- A team of identity restoration experts that creates a custom response plan to restore your identity if you become a victim of identity theft.
- Anti-virus software and VPN that keeps you safe and secure online.
IdentityIQ services can help you detect early warning signs of fraud, allowing you to take immediate action and minimize the potential damage when someone uses your driver’s license to commit identity theft.