A driver's license is an identity thief's paradise. With that one card, someone knows your birthdate, address, and even your height, eye color, and signature.
If someone gets your driver's license number, it is also concerning because it's connected to your vehicle registration and insurance policies, as well as records on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles, place of employment (that keep a copy of your driver's license on file), doctor's office, government agencies, and other entities. Having access to that one number can provide an identity thief with several pieces of information they want to know about you.
Next to your Social Security number, your driver's license number is one of the most important pieces of information to keep safe from thieves.
Your driver's license number can be taken in two ways. First, it can be stolen through a data breach. Second, your license can physically go missing. Here is what you should do in each situation.
What to Do If Your Driver's License Number Is Stolen in a Data Breach
Any time your driver's license number is stored in an organization's database, it is at risk of being stolen or compromised in a data breach. It is up to that organization to provide protection for the information it stores, but sometimes those security protocols fail.
Unfortunately, you don't always know who has your driver's license number. Millions have been surprised when they receive a data breach notification and are informed that their driver's license numbers have been included in the breach. Thieves only need a number to forge a fake license or to avoid a traffic violation.
If you are notified by an organization that your driver's license number was compromised in a data breach, follow the recommendations offered, including signing up for any credit monitoring services offered. Also, reach out to your state's DMV to report that your number may have been stolen.
If you store your driver's license number on your computer or any mobile device, take steps to protect it through encryption, and ensure your devices are locked when not in use.
Your Driver's License Is Stolen
If your driver's license is stolen with your wallet or purse, it opens you to a variety of fraud and identity theft options. They have all that personal information about you, so the steps to protect yourself will be more intensive. Be sure to:
- Immediately contact police to report the theft and create a paper trail. Make sure you list the driver's license as one of the items missing.
- Contact the DMV to report the stolen license. They will tell you how to proceed to replace your license and what to do about driving until it is replaced.
- Put a freeze on your credit. Your driver's license number plus all the other information on the license provides enough information for a thief to open accounts in your name.
- Continue to monitor your accounts. That includes requesting a copy of your official driving record to make sure a thief did not use your driver's license number to cover their traffic violations and signing up for a background check (the police or your bank should be able to recommend a reputable company). Do this periodically to make sure all is clear.
- Change the locks on your doors (after all, since they have your license, they have your address).