What Can Someone Do With Your ID?
We’ve all had that moment of panic when we can’t find our driver’s license. You may have forgotten your wallet in an Uber, or accidentally dropped your ID during a night out with friends.
Or you could have been the victim of a pickpocket, purse-snatching, or data breach.
Whatever the case, losing a driver’s license or government-issued ID isn’t just an annoyance to replace. It’s often the first step a criminal may take when attempting to commit identity fraud.
If you lose your ID, and then detect any warning signs of identity theft, you may become a victim.
Your Driver’s License: One Key That Unlocks Many Treasure Chests
Your driver’s license information, passport, and any other government-issued ID presents a goldmine of opportunity for identity thieves.
This small, but precious card contains a combination of personally identifiable information (PII), including your:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number
- Passport number
- Physical characteristics (height, weight, hair/eye color)
This information is unique to you, describing and identifying who you are. That’s why criminals consider it so valuable.
What Can Someone Do With Your Driver's License Number?
Unfortunately, many bad things can happen if criminals are able to obtain the information on your ID or steal your driver’s license number.
Law enforcement says there are six common things that can happen if a criminal steals your ID, starting with synthetic identity theft and selling your ID number and photo on the Dark Web.
1. Your ID could be sold on the Dark Web
If scammers don't want to use your ID, they can always sell it to make fast money.
Your driver’s license is a valuable asset to people who’ve had their licenses suspended or revoked due to DUIs or DWIs.
Criminals with outstanding warrants can also buy stolen driver’s licenses to assume a new identity. You'd be shocked at how low-priced stolen identity information is on the Dark Web. Pilfered driver’s license numbers on the Dark Web go for al low as $70.
2. Driver’s license fraud
Driver’s license fraud specifically occurs when someone uses counterfeit identity documents or another person’s identity to obtain a legitimate driver’s license or ID card.
This happens when someone is not eligible for a real license. Driver’s license fraud is most often committed by an undocumented alien or someone with a suspended or revoked license.
3. Create fake IDs using your driver’s license number
Slightly different from driver’s license fraud, criminals only need your driver’s license number (not the whole license) to create a fake ID that they can use instead of their own.
If they have an outstanding warrant and are detained by law enforcement, a cop will run a background check on your ID (which is probably clean) instead of theirs. When the warrant doesn’t show up in the background check, the criminals will evade the arrest.
If criminals get stopped for a traffic violation and use your ID, law enforcement will file the charges on your driving record, not theirs. So you’ll be on the hook for paying traffic tickets and clearing your name in court.
"According to the FTC, victims spend an average of 600 hours getting their life back to normal after identity theft."
Unfortunately, most people don’t find out about these unpaid tickets or court appearances until it’s too late. A judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest if you fail to pay these fines or never show up in court.
If anyone performs a background check (like when you apply for a new job or apartment), that bench warrant will show up on your record, unleashing a nightmare situation.
4. Create a Synthetic Identity
They may use your real driver’s license number with a fake name and date of birth. Then they can establish a synthetic identity to run a phishing scam on social media, open new accounts, obtain government documents, and more.
It’s nearly impossible to find and stop criminals using a synthetic identity because law enforcement can’t determine what’s real versus fake. Criminals using synthetic identities are like ghosts in the wind.
5. Commit identity theft
Can your identity really be stolen with just your driver’s license?
While it’s difficult for someone to steal your identity from your driver’s license alone, it doesn’t take much for them to start the process.
Once identity thieves know your name, address and date of birth, they can plug this information into an online database on the Dark Web, enabling them to 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
- Home title information (for committing deed fraud)
Your PII may have already been exposed during a prior data breach. And now a criminal has the perfect opportunity to take advantage of it.
Out of an abundance of caution, we'd recommend you run a free Dark Web Scan via Identity Guard, to make sure your personally identifying information is not exposed.
6. Commit mail fraud
If thieves have already stolen your name and address, they can submit a change of address request with the post office and redirect all of your mail, including bank statements, credit cards, checks, your IRS tax return, and more.
Your personal information can also be used 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 your account passwords, and even trick lenders into issuing new credit accounts in your name.
Once a fraudster captures enough information to piece together your financial life, they can drain your bank accounts, take out loans that they never intend to repay (i.e., loan fraud or reverse mortgage scams), destroy your credit score, and cause long-term financial devastation.
Unfortunately, you may never realize this is happening until you’re being hounded by debt collection agencies, fail to get approved for a mortgage, or can’t get an auto loan due to your negatively affected credit history.
What To Do If Someone Steals Your ID to Commit Identity Theft
Alert your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
The first thing you need to do to recover after your identity is stolen is to go online to your state’s DMV website, and follow the instructions to report your ID as lost or stolen.
This will prevent identity thieves from claiming your license as their own or having another license issued in your name.
Some states allow citizens to place a “Verify ID” flag on their driver’s license number. This tells police that your ID has been compromised or stolen. So if the criminals get pulled over with your driver’s license number, law enforcement will see the flag on your record and ask for two or more pieces of identification to prove that they’re you.
You may also want to request an official copy of your driving record each year going forward and check for car title scams. This will alert you to any tickets issued under your name, traffic stops you were never present for, and other outstanding violations.
Alert local law enforcement
You want a record of losing your driver’s license or ID as soon as possible, so file a police report at your local police station. Anything that occurs on your record after filing this report will be easier to contest and help clear your name of charges or violations.
Contact appropriate government agencies
If your ID was in a wallet that was lost or stolen, you might need to contact several other government agencies just to be safe, such as your local:
- Postal Inspector. You can prevent criminals from filing change of address forms and alert authorities to potential mail theft.
- Social Security Administration office, if your Social Security card was also taken or misplaced.
- Passport office, if you lost your passport.
You can find instructions for how to proceed either online or by calling their local toll-free hotlines.
💡 Related: What Can Scammers Do With Your Passport Number? →
Review your credit report
Be sure to contact the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) to flag your account for potential fraud. To minimize potential financial harm, you can place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report to prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name.
You’ll also need to monitor your credit history very carefully. You’re entitled to one free credit report every year via annualcreditreport.com. Be sure to check for new accounts, loans, or lines of credit you didn’t open as well as suspicious charges on your credit cards, etc.
Unfortunately, this is a very frustrating process that can take countless hours of work. Instead of manually calling all three major credit bureaus, let Aura's fraud remediation team help you, step by step.
- Credit Lock: Safeguard your credit from unauthorized inquiries by locking your credit.
- Credit Reports: Get monthly credit updates and annual reports from the major credit bureaus.
- Financial Transaction Monitoring: Protect your finances. Set alerts on spending activity to prevent the different types of financial fraud.
- Bank Account Monitoring: Get a fraud alert if any unauthorized persons try to access your bank account.
- Lost Wallet Remediation: If your wallet is lost or stolen, we’ll help you cancel any debit or credit cards and work with you on a recovery plan to secure your data.
- $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance: Every Aura plan comes with an insurance policy that covers eligible losses due to identity theft.
Report identity theft to the FTC
You don’t need to report a lost or stolen driver’s license to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
However, if your lost wallet contains your Social Security card, credit/debit cards, or banking account details, you are likely to become a victim of identity theft. In this case, you should report identity theft to the FTC via IdentityTheft.gov.
You’ll receive an affidavit to send to your financial institutions in case criminals perform any illegal activities under your name. The FTC's easy-to-use, online reporting wizard will help you with the process and outline a personalized recovery plan.
Get a background check
Conducting a background check on yourself will alert you to any criminal charges, debt collections, or outstanding warrants on your record. You can clear these up before you’re hit with hefty fines and penalties or have your license suspended or revoked.
Don’t Get Scammed. Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Losing your ID can lead to serious long-term consequences. Follow these steps to minimize the damage that an identity thief or scammer can do with your ID:
- Consider going paperless (and secure your online accounts). Scammers can steal your PII from mail, physical statements, and other documents. Go paperless as much as possible and secure your online accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA).
- Never send anyone a picture of your ID. Hackers and cybercriminals can access cloud photo databases to steal your ID. If your phone is stolen or hacked, your ID will be exposed. If you have any photos of your ID stored on your computer, mobile device, in text messages, etc. - you should delete them immediately.
- Regularly check your credit report and bank statements. Scammers are almost always after your financial accounts. Check for the warning signs of identity theft — such as strange charges on your bank statement or accounts you don’t recognize. An identity theft protection service like Aura can monitor your credit and statements for you and alert you to any signs of fraud.
- Freeze your credit. A credit freeze (or credit lock) stops fraudsters from opening new accounts or taking out loans in your name. Contact each of the major credit bureaus to request a credit freeze. Or, use Aura’s one-click credit lock to instantly lock and unlock your Experian credit file.
- Consider signing up for identity theft protection. Aura’s top-rated identity theft protection monitors all of your most sensitive personal information, online accounts, and finances for signs of fraud. If a scammer tries to access your accounts or finances, Aura can help you take action before it’s too late. Try Aura’s 14-day free trial for immediate protection while you’re most vulnerable.
Try Aura's identity theft protection
The Equifax data breach that affected 147 million Americans [*]. Cybercriminals gained access to PII, including Social security numbers, addresses, and even driver’s licenses.
Victims of the breach can still file for settlement due to identity theft or fraud related to the breach until January 22, 2024.
Besides the other credit bureaus, your employer always keeps a copy of your ID on record, as does your insurance company, government agencies, as well as doctor's offices, hospitals, and more.
Any time your driver’s license is stored in an organization’s database, it’s at risk of being stolen or compromised in a data breach. Luckily, Aura can alert you if you or your loved ones are at risk of family identity theft.
We can’t help you remember where you placed your wallet. But we can help you safeguard your personal and financial information if you lose it.