By Greg Wright
MBA, CFE, CFP®, CLU, ChFC
Certified Fraud Examiner & National Speaker
Recently, I visited a dentist recommended by a friend. After filling out the standard paperwork, the receptionist asked to see my driver’s license. She was getting ready to scan it into the office system when I told her that I did not want her to copy it. She said that it was their policy. I said that she could look at it to verify my identity, but she was not to copy it because it could lead to identity theft. Further, since I was a cash-paying customer, and dental insurance was not involved, the dental practice had no obligation to copy it. She called the practice manager into the conversation. I refused to budge, and the dentist refused to budge. I left and went back to my old dentist.
In my opinion, you should not allow (never allow) your driver’s license to be copied or the DL number to be recorded by anyone other than law enforcement or events surrounding a traffic accident. You might be required to prove your identity, and that is okay to show it to appropriate individuals.
The really important information on your driver’s license is the ID number itself. With that number, someone could write a check using a facsimile of your check, or (seriously) give that number to law enforcement at the time of their traffic incident while claiming that they don’t have the physical card with them.
Criminal identity theft might occur when a fraudster has an incident with law enforcement - may be a traffic violation or a DUI felony - and someone claims to be you. They might leave you with unpaid parking tickets, a court date that you know nothing about, or an outstanding warrant for your arrest. Once “you” fail to pay the ticket or fail to appear in court, your real problems begin. You could find yourself in county lockup making new friends.
If you file your taxes electronically, you might be asked for your driver’s license number so the IRS can verify that you are actually you. Someone using your driver’s license number could spend your tax refund. Try getting that corrected.
Protect your driver’s license. In some ways, it is more important than your Social Security number.
Note: the driver's license shown above is a sample furnished by the BMV.