Can Someone Steal Your Identity With Your ID?

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Yaniv Masjedi

Organic Growth at Aura

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    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
    • Address
    • Driver’s license number
    • Passport number
    • Physical characteristics (height, weight, hair/eye color)
    • Signature
    • Picture

    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? 

    1. Sell Your ID on The Dark Web.
    2. Driver's License Fraud.
    3. Create Fake IDs Using Your Driver's License Number.
    4. Create Synthetic Identities.
    5. Commit Identity Theft.
    6. Commit Mail Fraud.

    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.

    One of the most common types of identity theft is the act of selling stolen personal data on the Dark Web

    Criminals with outstanding warrants can also buy stolen driver’s licenses to assume a new identity. You'd be shocked at how cheap stolen identity information costs on the Dark Web. Stolen driver’s licenses on the Dark Web can be sold as cheaply as $20.

    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 

    Criminals can also use your driver’s license to commit synthetic identity theft. These "synthetic" identities combine stolen data from data breaches, your real online footprint, and fake information. 

    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.

    Related: Aura vs. LifeLock: How to pick the best identity theft protection in 2022 <--

    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. 

    fraud identity theft map FTC
    [image source: FTC]

    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

    1. Alert Your State's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
    2. Alert Your Local Law Enforcement.
    3. Alert Appropriate Government Agencies.
    4. Review Your Credit Report.
    5. Report Identity Theft to the FTC.
    6. Get a Background Check.

    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 Your 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.

    Alert 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 fraud.
    • 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.

    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.

    Aura's Team of Experts Can Help With:
    • 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.

    Check out Aura's frequently asked questions for more insight.

    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.

    How To Protect Your Identity If You Lose Your ID

    After losing your ID, there is much to endure to get your life back to normal. Following these steps may help you safeguard your identity and minimize the damage.

    Always Be Vigilant

    Consider going paperless to reduce the volume of financial statements flowing through the mail. This could prevent thieves who know your address from committing mail theft.

    Sign up for account notifications, either in-app or via SMS on your mobile phone. You’ll be immediately alerted to charges on your accounts in real-time. If you see fraudulent charges, many credit card companies allow you to dispute them and freeze your account/cards to prevent future transactions.

    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.

    Try Aura's Identity Theft Protection for Ultimate Peace of Mind

    In 2017, U.S. credit reporting agency Equifax experienced a major data breach that affected 147 million Americans [*]. Cybercriminals gained access to PII, including Social security numbers, addresses, and even driver’s licenses.

    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.

    Ready to give Aura a try? See which plan works best for you.

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    1. Financial identity theft and fraud
    2. Medical identity theft
    3. Child identity theft
    4. Elder fraud and estate identity theft
    5. “Friendly” or familial identity theft
    6. Employment identity theft
    7. Criminal identity theft
    8. Tax identity theft
    9. Unemployment and government benefits identity theft
    10. Synthetic identity theft
    11. Identity cloning
    12. Account takeovers (social media, email, etc.)
    13. Social Security number identity theft
    14. Biometric ID theft
    15. Crypto account takeovers