What Can a Scammer Do if They Have Possession of Your Driver's License?
Even though your driver’s license may not seem like a jackpot to criminals, it can be used to make false licenses, open accounts in your name, avoid traffic tickets, or even receive government benefits like unemployment payments. Even worse, you might not even be aware that your license information has been misused if it has been taken in a data breach.
Currently, you have one card in your wallet with enough personal data to enable an identity thief to make transactions or cash checks in your name. It is your driver’s license. A driver’s license often includes your name, address, birth date, and other identifying information like your height and weight (plus a photo). The back of your license has a magnetic strip or barcode that functions like a credit card and may reveal more information to anyone who swipes it through a scanner. You may be vulnerable to identity theft if a thief obtains this information. Criminals also value the physical license you have; whereas Social Security numbers only fetch $2 on the dark web, a driver’s license can fetch anywhere from $20 to $80.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, since 2017, the information from more than 150 million U.S. driver’s licenses has been stolen due to a data breach or a failure to safeguard a database. Countless driver’s licenses are additionally taken every year through pickpocketing of wallets or purses. Follow the instructions below to protect your identity and your driver’s license information.
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How Can You Tell if A Scammer Has Your Driver’s License?
The biggest problem with stealing a driver’s license is that victims frequently don’t understand that thieves have access to their personal data until the harm has already been done.
If your license is stolen or lost, this might not be such a big deal: When you can’t find your actual driver’s license, there is a problem. However, suppose a data breach results in the exposure of your license information. In that case, you might not become aware of an issue until a fraudster uses your information to start a new credit card account or apply for a personal loan.
But you can search for some indicators. You can receive a call from your insurance provider or the local department of motor vehicles informing you that a data breach may have exposed the information on your driver’s license. Then, you may keep an eye out for any indications that someone is abusing your information.
Even if you haven’t requested unemployment benefits, you could still get notices from your state’s unemployment office. That might indicate that someone is applying for unemployment benefits on your behalf using your driver’s license information.
Even if you have no misdemeanor or felony charges in your name, your municipal court may send you notices concerning court dates you’ve missed.
You can discover a bill from a credit card in your mailbox one day when you go to check your wallet.
And if you discover that credit card accounts or loans that you know you’ve never sought for are included on your credit reports? That is a surefire indication that your identity has been stolen.
Check Your Credit Report if You Think Your Driver's License Information Has Been Stolen
You should immediately get copies of your free credit reports if you have any reason to believe that someone has accessed your driver’s license information, either through a data breach or by physically stealing your card.
Each year, you are entitled to a free copy of each of the three credit reports that are kept on file by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, the three major national credit bureaus. These reports are available for download to your computer at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Your personal information, any recent bankruptcies or foreclosures, open credit card and loan accounts, and the balance owed on each account are all listed in these reports.
When loans or credit accounts appear on your records that you know you did not open on your own? You are aware that someone is stealing your identity using your personal information.
DO YOU SUSPECT THAT SOMEONE HAD SCAMMED YOU?
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What To Do if Someone is Utilizing The Data on Your Driver's License
Finding out that someone is stealing your identity using information from your driver’s license is shocking. However, there is no need to panic right now. You can still take steps to prevent further harm even if fraudsters have already opened accounts in your name.
First, alert the banks or financial organizations in charge of fraudulently the credit card or loan accounts that were opened in your name. Inform these organizations that you are a victim of identity theft and that you did not apply for these accounts or loans. These accounts will be closed by the banking institutions. If you act quickly, you can avoid being held liable for charges made on bogus credit cards you didn’t request, and you might avoid having to repay loans that fraudsters took out in your name.
Contact this government organization as well if you get notifications from your state’s unemployment office concerning benefits you’ve never claimed for. Inform the unemployment office that you were a victim of identity theft and that you never filed for benefits. After that, the agency will stop paying unemployment benefits to the thief who stole your identity. Once more, you won’t be required to repay any of these benefits.
After that, you should freeze your credit with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. A credit freeze stops creditors from accessing your credit reports, including banks and lenders. Because creditors won’t approve their loan or credit requests if they can’t first check your credit reports, this will prevent identity thieves from obtaining new loans or credit cards in your name.
Each credit agency will provide you with a personal identification number when you freeze your credit with them. If you want to apply for a loan or credit card, you can use that PIN to unfreeze your credit. After applying for loans or a new credit card, you can use the PIN to freeze your credit once more. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are the three credit bureaus where you must freeze your credit.
If you’ve experienced identity theft, you can also add a one-year fraud alert to your credit reports. This notice informs creditors that they must take reasonable measures to confirm that you are the person making credit or loan applications in your name. It would be best if you simply got in touch with one of the three national credit bureaus to accomplish this. The other bureaus must then be notified of your fraud notice by that bureau.
Make sure to notify your local department of motor vehicles of the loss or theft, regardless of whether your driver’s license has been stolen or the data on it has been compromised. You can obtain a new driver’s license from the department with a new license number.
Additionally, if your license was stolen, you should get in touch with your neighborhood police agency. You should report this offense to IdentityTheft.gov if you have any reason to believe that someone has stolen your identity using your driver’s license information.
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What Would Happen If Your Real Driver's License Was Stolen?
A slightly different problem is having your driver’s license stolen along with your wallet or handbag. The burglar may or may not want to take your identity: They can be searching for money, jewelry, or credit cards that they can use right away.
In contrast, a stolen pocketbook can include a wealth of information for a fraudster to use, such as your credit cards and health insurance information, if they are inclined to take your identity. Additionally, they’ll have access to your driver’s license, which could result in a number of problems. Here is what you must do right away.
Take these actions:
- Police report to be filed. Include your driver’s license on the list of things that are missing.
- Get in touch with the car department in your state. They will explain how to replace your license and what to do while driving in the interim.
- Continue to keep an eye on your identification and file a fraud alert or credit freeze. If you act quickly, you might be able to foil fraud attempts before they cause any harm. A fraud alert is usually sufficient and is more practical than a credit freeze, which necessitates additional steps on your behalf when you want to submit valid credit applications. The need for both a fraud warning and a credit freeze is tenuous at best.
- If thieves obtained your keys and your wallet, think about changing the locks on your doors. They already know your address if they have a copy of your driver’s license.
What You Can Do to Report Identity Theft and Stop It
Take urgent action to combat identity theft if your research reveals any indications of it:
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report a theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Inform the department of motor vehicles in your state about the theft.
- With each of the three credit reporting companies, request a fraud alert. When a fraud alert is active, organizations that check your credit will request identification proof before processing your credit application.
- To stop businesses from running the necessary credit checks to open new accounts in your name, you can also ask for a credit freeze with each credit bureau. Just keep in mind that a credit freeze prevents businesses from seeing your credit record for genuinely submitted applications until you “thaw” it.
- Check your background check, driving record, and credit reports frequently for any fresh indications of identity fraud.
- Think about preventing identity theft. Even while it might be too late to stop the recent data breach, identity theft monitoring might make it more straightforward in the future to monitor your accounts and limit who has access to your credit report.
How to Safeguard Your Personal Data Against Scammers in The Future
Although it’s almost tricky in the current world to completely eliminate the possibility of identity theft, taking precautions to protect your data is always a wise decision—safe online and telephone shopping. Avoid disclosing any personal information that could be used to access your accounts or steal your identity, including your credit card number, bank account information, identification information like your Social Security number, and your driver’s license credentials (or your license itself).
Early discovery is frequently the best line of protection against identity theft. By continuously monitoring your identity and warning you at the first hint of trouble, identity protection with Experian IdentityWorks can significantly aid you in this situation. Identity crimes are more likely to cause minor damage if you can identify, report, and stop them quickly.
Keep in mind that the only piece of information that is required to commit fraud is your driver’s license number; your name, address, and date of birth are not needed to steal your identity.
Protecting your driver’s license information is the most crucial step you can take. If the person trying to scan or swipe your license is not authorized by the government, you should not let anyone else scan or swipe it (checking ID at a bar, buying medicine, employment or rental property.)
It is not a good idea to have your license number automatically written at the top of your checks because if they were to fall into the wrong hands, it could result in years of problems with check fraud. If you are not careful, committing check fraud, which is a felony, could result in the issuance of a warrant for your arrest.
Keeping your identity secure requires a lot of work and effort. But if you follow the measures that have been outlined above, you will be well on your way to protecting yourself against a wide variety of dangers and cons.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to deal with everything on your own. Identity Guard allows you to shop, bank, and surf the web without worrying about having your personal information stolen.
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