If your driver’s license was lost or stolen, first contact the DMV to report your missing license. Since a lost driver’s license could provide a gateway for hackers to discover more of your personal information, you’ll also want to monitor your bank accounts and credit report for any loans or withdrawals you didn’t authorize.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), since 2017, over 150 million people’s driver’s license information has been compromised due to a data breach or failure to secure a database. That doesn’t even account for the number of lost driver’s licenses due to garden variety theft that could eventually result in someone trying to steal your identity.
Even if you carefully protect your information, plenty of things happen that are beyond your control. The theft of driver’s license information can result in a whole host of problems before you even realize it. This includes traffic violations, loans, or accounts in your name, and the destruction of your credit rating, among others. Read on to find out what you can do to protect yourself or mitigate the damage if your personal information was already breached.
Important data on your driver’s license
Your driver’s license doesn’t contain your social security number or important account numbers, so it may not feel like such a big deal to lose it. After all, maybe you just dropped it in a taxi or left it at the bar last night — what’s the big deal?
You might even assume that the person who snatched your purse just wants cash or maybe a credit card they could use right away. But there’s a lot more valuable data on your driver’s license than you might realize. This can provide a path for thieves to find even more of your personally identifiable information (PII). For example, aside from your driver’s license number, your ID contains:
- Your home address
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Physical description
These individual pieces of information alone might not get someone very far. Unfortunately, put together, your driver’s license provides a wealth of data that could ultimately lead to someone accessing your credit card and bank account information. Identity thieves could also get to your health insurance information, which could inspire medical fraud.
How does someone steal your driver’s license information?
You might be surprised at how many places have your driver’s license number on file. The Department of Motor Vehicles will obviously have that information, but plenty of other individuals and companies also collect this number. This could include your employer, bank, doctor’s office, department stores, government agencies like the IRS, or anywhere else that may have a copy of your driver’s license for identification or credit check purposes.
Hackers know that companies have different levels of security, and sometimes the security breach may come from within the business. If any of the listed companies are robbed of physical or electronic records, your personal information may be stolen and used for identity fraud.
What to do if your driver’s license information is breached
The most important thing to do is act quickly, ideally as soon as you learn of the breach. Companies that do experience a data breach should contact you if an unauthorized person gains access to your PII. After that, there a number of actions you can take to mitigate any damage.
Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles
This is important whether your physical license is lost or stolen, or if your driver’s license number and information were compromised by a data breach. While you’re at it, request a copy of your official driving record from your state’s DMV to check for speeding tickets or other outstanding violations that you’re not aware of.
Driver’s license fraud is not uncommon. For all you know, you could be driving around with a traffic violation or suspended license without even realizing it.
Cancel or closely monitor credit accounts
If your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ll need to immediately cancel all of your credit cards. However, if just your driver’s license is lost, it might be enough to notify your bank and credit card companies. Once you alert them, carefully monitor your accounts for any charges or withdrawals that you didn’t authorize.
Fortunately, some credit cards come with identity theft protection. Though you may have to pay for this benefit, credit cards with this feature monitor your credit through at least one of the credit bureaus and perform dark web scans. Some cards even include identity theft insurance in this feature.
Put out a fraud alert or credit freeze
Initiating a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies means that people checking your credit must carefully verify your identity before processing any credit applications.
A credit freeze is more drastic and blocks credit card companies or others from checking your credit, even for legitimate purposes, until you lift the restriction.
Check your credit reports
Anyone can request a free yearly copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — and this is a good time to do so. You will want to look for any new credit card accounts you don’t recognize or inquiries you didn’t initiate. You could even find you’re in collections for a loan you never took out.
Change your passwords
You should change your passwords regularly, but especially in the case of a data breach or a lost or stolen driver’s license. Never use the same password twice and try to come up with random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols that are not connected to you.
For example, don’t use birthdays, pet names, or other details that are personally linked to you. And, of course, store your passwords in a secure location.
Do a background check
Your employer’s human resources department might be able to point you in the right direction on how to do a thorough background check on yourself to look for any suspicious legal activity that you might be unknowingly tied to.
Get a dark web scan
Finding out if your driver’s license information has been breached by doing a scan of the dark web isn’t a bad idea, but keep in mind it’s not foolproof. It’s impossible to search the entire dark web but you should be able to discover when your information was breached.
Consider getting identity theft insurance
While identity guard insurance might not be strictly necessary, it can save you a lot of headaches as you navigate the numerous steps involved with reclaiming your identity and getting back to normal.
File a police report
If your information has been breached through an organization’s database, filing a police report won’t do you any good. However, if your purse, wallet, or backpack has been lost or stolen, it’s a must. Be sure to list everything that’s missing, including your driver’s license.
Perhaps you had your medical card in your bag or some bills that could reveal at least partial account numbers from your bank or credit accounts. It’s important to report anything else that gives a criminal further insights into your financial life.
Signs of identity theft
Sometimes your personally identifying information may be breached without there actually being any consequences. However, if you notice any of the following signs, you will want to report identity theft right away. You can do that through the Federal Trade Commission.
- Calls for debt collections. If you start getting calls or letters from collection agencies for things you know nothing about, you are most likely a victim of identity theft. By reporting it right away, you’re asserting your innocence immediately.
- Suspicious bills. Getting unfamiliar bills in the mail is another giant red flag that someone has used your information to open accounts in your name or make fraudulent payments on your accounts. Be especially wary of any medical bills, because those can add up rapidly.
- Warrants for your arrest. If your local law enforcement pulls you over for rolling through a stop sign and finds out you have outstanding warrants, someone has probably been using your driver’s license. Or they may have used yours to make fake driver’s licenses and any number of people could be running around with your same license number.
- You’re not getting any mail. If someone gets their hands on your ID card or driver’s license information, they probably have your current address as well. An identity thief could easily fill out a change of address form and have your mail forwarded elsewhere, giving them even greater access to more of your personal data.
- Your checking account is overdrawn. If this isn’t a normal occurrence for you, an overdrawn account is a strong indicator that someone has stolen your identity and drained your bank account.
How to protect yourself from identity theft
- Set up account alerts so you know in real-time when there is any activity on your bank or credit card accounts.
- Contact credit bureaus and monitor your credit reports often for any suspicious activity.
- Never give out sensitive account information over the phone (unless you’ve contacted the financial institutions yourself).
- Consider purchasing identity theft protection for greater security of your data.
What can someone do with your ID number?
If someone has your driver’s license information, they could do a world of damage. This could include:
- Opening an account in your name
- Committing mail fraud
- Cashing your checks
- Creating fake IDs
- Collecting unemployment
- Selling it on the dark web
- Opening utilities in your name
- Stealing your identity entirely
What are two things you should do if your identity is stolen?
One of the most important things to do if your identity is stolen is to tell the major credit reporting agencies what’s happened and request a fraud alert or credit freeze. You will also want to report it to the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
By reporting your identity theft as early as possible, you will limit your liability in regard to any fraudulent activity that occurred in your name.
- Data breaches are not uncommon and can give identity thieves access to your driver’s license information as well as other personal data.
- At a minimum, monitor your credit report, your bank and card accounts, and your driving record if you find your driver’s license lost or stolen.
- Notify the local police station if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
- Not everyone who takes your wallet is trying to steal your identity. That being said, it’s safest to take steps and remain vigilant about protecting your personal information.
View Article Sources
- Identity Theft — USA.gov
- What Consumers Can Do About Identity Theft — Federal Trade Commission
- Health Care Fraud — FBI
- Lost or Stolen Wallet? 6 Things You Need To Do Immediately — SuperMoney
- Types of Frauds: Complete List and How to Avoid Them — SuperMoney
- Is Identity Theft Protection Worth the Money? — SuperMoney
- 11 Ways To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft — SuperMoney
- What is Swiping Scamming? — SuperMoney