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Can Someone Steal Your Identity With Your ID?

We’ve all experienced that moment of sheer panic when we can’t find our driver’s license. Whether it’s because we left our wallet in an Uber, dropped our ID during a night out, or were the victim of a pickpocket or data breach, losing a driver’s license or government-issued ID is more than just an inconvenience. It’s the first step a criminal may take in attempting to commit identity fraud. If you lose your ID and then notice any warning signs of identity theft, you may become a victim.

Your Driver’s License: Unlocking a World of Possibilities

Your driver’s license, along with other government-issued IDs like passports, presents a goldmine of opportunity for identity thieves. This small yet crucial card contains personally identifiable information (PII) unique to you, including your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, address, driver’s license number, passport number, physical characteristics, signature, and picture. Criminals view this information as incredibly valuable.

What Can Someone Do With Your Driver’s License Number?

Unfortunately, there are many things that can happen if a criminal obtains the information on your ID or steals your driver’s license number.

1. Your ID could be sold on the Dark Web

If scammers don’t want to use your ID for themselves, they can always sell it to make quick money. Stolen driver’s licenses are particularly valuable to individuals with suspended or revoked licenses. Selling stolen personal data, including driver’s license information, on the Dark Web is one of the most common types of identity theft. Criminals with outstanding warrants can also buy stolen driver’s licenses to assume new identities. Surprisingly, stolen driver’s license numbers on the Dark Web can go for as low as $70.

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2. Driver’s license fraud

Driver’s license fraud occurs when someone uses counterfeit identity documents or another person’s identity to obtain a legitimate driver’s license or ID card. This is often done by individuals who are not eligible for a real license, such as undocumented immigrants or those with suspended or revoked licenses.

3. Creation of fake IDs using your driver’s license number

In this case, criminals only need your driver’s license number, not the entire license, to create a fake ID that they can use instead of their own. If they have an outstanding warrant and get detained by law enforcement, the police officer will run a background check on your ID, which is likely clean, instead of theirs. As a result, the criminals can avoid arrest. Additionally, if they get stopped for a traffic violation and use your ID, you may be held responsible for paying traffic tickets and clearing your name in court.

4. Creation of a Synthetic Identity

Criminals can use your driver’s license to commit synthetic identity theft. These “synthetic” identities combine stolen data from data breaches, your real online presence, and fake information. They may use your real driver’s license number with a fake name and date of birth to establish a synthetic identity. With this synthetic identity, criminals can run phishing scams on social media, open new accounts, obtain government documents, and more. It’s challenging for law enforcement to distinguish between real and fake information in synthetic identities.

5. Identity theft

While it’s difficult for someone to steal your identity solely from your driver’s license, it doesn’t take much for them to start the process. Once identity thieves have your name, address, and date of birth, they can use this information to access online databases on the Dark Web. From there, they can steal more data, such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers, home phone number, cell phone number, health insurance, education records, military credentials, employment history, marriage and divorce records, email addresses, logins and passwords, and even home title information. If your PII has already been exposed in a prior data breach, criminals have the perfect opportunity to take advantage of it.

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6. Mail fraud

If thieves have stolen your name and address, they can submit a change of address request with the post office and redirect all of your mail. This allows them to access bank statements, credit cards, checks, your IRS tax return, and more. They can also use your personal information as security questions to commit bank fraud and hack into your accounts or credit card accounts. If your debit or credit cards were in the same wallet as your stolen ID, the thief can ask your credit card company to issue a new card, change the address or account passwords, and even trick lenders into issuing new credit accounts in your name. As a result, they can drain your bank accounts, take out loans they never intend to repay, destroy your credit score, and cause long-term financial devastation.

What to Do If Someone Steals Your ID to Commit Identity Theft

If your identity is stolen, there are important steps you should take to recover and protect yourself:

Alert your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

Report your lost or stolen ID to your state’s DMV website to prevent identity thieves from claiming your license as their own or obtaining another license in your name. Some states also allow citizens to place a “Verify ID” flag on their driver’s license number, indicating that it has been compromised or stolen. This flag alerts law enforcement to ask for additional identification when presented with your driver’s license number.

File a police report

Report the loss of your driver’s license or ID to your local police station as soon as possible. Having a record of the incident will help when contesting any charges or violations that occur on your record afterward.

Contact appropriate government agencies

If your ID was lost or stolen along with your wallet, it’s important to contact additional government agencies to safeguard your information. This may include contacting the Postal Inspector to prevent mail theft and notifying the Social Security Administration office or passport office if your Social Security card or passport was also lost.

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Review your credit report

Contact the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) to flag your account for potential fraud. Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report to prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name. Regularly monitor your credit history for any suspicious activity or unauthorized accounts.

Report identity theft to the FTC

If your lost wallet contains your Social Security card, credit/debit cards, or banking account details, it’s essential to report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via IdentityTheft.gov. The FTC will provide an affidavit to send to your financial institutions to help resolve any illegal activities performed under your name.

Get a background check

Conduct a background check on yourself to identify any criminal charges, debt collections, or outstanding warrants on your record. Taking care of these issues promptly can prevent further penalties or the suspension/revocation of your driver’s license.

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

Losing your ID can have serious long-term consequences. To minimize the damage that identity thieves or scammers can do with your ID, consider the following steps:

  1. Consider going paperless and secure your online accounts. Scammers can steal your PII from physical documents, so opt for paperless statements and ensure your online accounts have strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA).

  2. Never send anyone a picture of your ID. Hackers and cybercriminals can access cloud photo databases to steal your ID. Delete any photos of your ID stored on your devices.

  3. Regularly check your credit report and bank statements. Look out for warning signs of identity theft, such as unfamiliar charges or unrecognized accounts. An identity theft protection service like Aura can monitor your credit and statements for signs of fraud.

  4. Freeze your credit. Contact the major credit bureaus to request a credit freeze, which prevents fraudsters from opening new accounts or taking out loans in your name. Alternatively, use Aura’s credit lock feature to instantly lock and unlock your Experian credit file.

  5. Consider signing up for identity theft protection. Aura’s top-rated identity theft protection monitors your personal information, online accounts, and finances for signs of fraud. It can help you take action before it’s too late. Give Aura’s 14-day free trial a try for immediate protection.

Don’t let scammers steal your identity and wreak havoc on your life. Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and minimize the damage they can do.

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