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Someone stole my driver’s license.
It’s one of the scariest phrases that you can utter aloud. That heart-sinking moment when you realize your license isn’t where it’s supposed to be is panic-inducing for good reasons.
For one thing, you need your license to get through daily life. Everything from flying to buying a bottle of wine requires ID.
But it gets worse than that…
If someone stole your license, we can assume they have ill intent. You might be wondering if a stolen license can lead to identity theft, what that means, and what you should do.
If so, this article is for you. We’ll discuss all the risks of a stolen driver’s license, and then explain what you should do about it. That way, you can take proactive steps to protect your identity and all of its related assets.
Could a Stolen Driver’s License Lead to Identity Theft?
Yes, a stolen driver’s license can lead to identity theft. Just think about all the things your license includes…
Not to mention your driver’s license number! That’s a lot of personal information on one wallet-sized card.
Sure, at least your Social Security number isn’t on it, but a crafty criminal doesn’t need your social to do damage. And if they need your Social Security number, they can find it. Many Social Security numbers are already available on the dark web (and they’re cheap).
But, with the information on your license, an identity thief could:
Identity thieves can also use your driver’s license information in a “Frankenstein Fraud” scheme.
Also known as synthetic ID theft, this type of fraud occurs when a criminal combines stolen personal information with fake details to create a new identity. Or combines the stolen information of multiple people together.
So, they might use your driver’s license information alongside an infant’s social security number to create an identity with no credit history that they can use.
Frankenstein fraud is one of the most complex forms of identity theft to catch because investigators have to work through its many parts. And victims tend not to realize they’re victims until something goes very wrong.
What To Do If Your Driver’s License Is Stolen?
All of this goes to show that if your driver’s license is stolen, you need to act. Proactive steps can help minimize damage to your identity and assets.
Here’s what to do:
1. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
You’re going to need a replacement driver’s license, and the DMV can help you with that. In some states, you can initiate this process online, but many will require you to show up in person.
When you contact the DMV, you’ll also want to ask for the following:
2. File a Police Report
There are multiple reasons to file a police report, even if you think finding the thief is unlikely.
First, a police report allows you to dispute any negative marks on your driving record.
Second, it creates a paper trail. If your identity is stolen and you start having issues with your credit, a police report filed at the time of the event can help ensure disputes are settled in your favor.
To file a police report, call your local jurisdiction’s non-emergency line and explain the situation. Or, if your local police station offers it, you can file a report online.
3. Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit
Fraud alerts push businesses and lenders to take special steps when verifying your ID. This makes it that much harder for a criminal to take out a new line of credit in your name.
Placing a fraud alert on your credit is relatively simple, though it can take some time on the phone. You’ll need to call one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax).
Let them know you want to place a fraud alert on your credit. By law, the bureau you call must inform the other two bureaus about your request, so you shouldn’t have to call all three of them.
When doing this, make sure you have your police report done. With a police report available, you can opt for an extended seven-year fraud alert rather than the standard one-year option.
Note a fraud alert only helps stop thieves from opening new lines of credit. It will not do anything to prevent them from using your current credit cards if they get a hold of them.
But don’t worry – there are steps you can take to help prevent that, too…just keep reading.
4. Check for USPS Address Changes
If a thief gets a hold of your license, one of the easiest things they can do is change your address with USPS.
As anyone who’s moved knows, address changes are pretty easy to implement. You often don’t need a full Social Security number (many states only require the last four digits).
If a thief does this and begins receiving your mail, they could have access to a whole host of personal information, like medical records and bank statements. They may also receive new credit cards in your name.
You can’t preemptively tell the post office to watch for address changes, but you can watch for signs of it yourself.
If you notice:
You need to contact the postal service right away. You can do this in one of two ways:
5. Run a Background Check on Yourself
It’s uncommon, but criminals can use your driver’s license to impersonate you. And, if they’re caught committing a crime, they might provide your ID to the police – meaning, your name will appear in criminal and court records.
You probably won’t know this happened until you apply for a job or volunteer for a position that requires you to pass a criminal background check.
And, if you’re linked to a crime, potential employers and volunteer organizations probably won’t give you the chance to explain yourself.
So, it’s crucial to know if this is happening before you need a new job or want to coach your daughter’s softball team. That way, you can work to fix it.
Unfortunately, running a criminal background check isn’t all that easy.
You can call and request records from county, state, and federal courts. But know that many of them won’t just mail these sensitive files to you. If they have any records on you, you’ll probably have to go pick them up in person.
Alternatively, there are background check services. They usually charge some sort of fee to scan for any records in your name.
Another option, though, is to purchase the best Identity theft protection service. We’ll discuss this in more detail below, but good identity protection services include criminal and court record monitoring, so you’ll know if someone commits a crime in your name.
And they usually come with a threat resolution team that can help you restore your identity if that happens.
6. Review Your Credit Report and Bank Statements Regularly
More often than not, fraudsters are after your finances. They want to use your name to take out loans and run up credit debt.
You can stop them by paying close attention to your bank statements and credit report.
Look for any charges you don’t recognize on your bank statement and report them right away. Most banks won’t hold you liable for a fraudulent charge if you report it immediately.
As for your credit report…
You can review your annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus for free online at AnnualCreditReport.com. In some cases, you’ll be able to view them more than just annually, but for in-depth credit monitoring, you’ll want to sign up for a credit monitoring tool.
There are free tools like CreditKarma and Experian’s CreditWorks which can help. Or, if you opt for a full identity protection service, three-bureau credit monitoring is often included.
7. Watch For Signs of Unemployment Fraud
Criminals may use your personal information to apply for unemployment benefits. So, watch for the following signs:
If you come across any of these, call your state’s employment fraud hotline.
8. Run a Dark Web Scan
Stolen driver’s license numbers are money-makers for thieves. They can sell them on the dark web for upwards of $50 a piece (making them more lucrative than social security numbers).
A simple dark web scan can help you find out if your license number is being bought and sold. This is essential to do even if you recover your stolen license. Remember, all thieves need is the number, not the physical ID card.
Dark web scans can also alert you to any other compromised accounts, allowing you to quickly secure them by changing passwords and opting for multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Many services offer free dark web scams, but in our testing, few are very accurate. Paid services tend to be better.
The best our testers have found is Aura’s identity protection service. It continuously monitors the dark web and consistently identifies more threats than other services.
9. Alert The FTC
As you work through these steps, if you spot any signs of identity theft, you should report it to the FTC immediately. You can do this at IdentityTheft.gov.
The FTC probably won’t find the criminal responsible for the theft, but taking this step will help you prove your identity was stolen. That way, you’re not liable for charges or credit issues that a thief caused.
What Happens If You Become an Identity Theft Victim?
Photo by Dom J
Realizing you’re an identity theft victim is incredibly scary.
Victims could find their bank accounts cleared out, their credit ruined, and their valuable possessions (including their cars and homes) stolen from under them.
Hopefully, you discover signs of fraud before drastic damage occurs. If you know your driver’s license is stolen or missing, taking the steps listed above will help prevent huge losses. But nothing can fully protect you from identity theft.
Even the most vigilant monitoring of your credit report and bank statements can’t completely stop a determined criminal.
And, unfortunately, recovering from an identity theft incident isn’t easy. It often takes considerable amounts of time and energy. You’ll likely spend hours on the phone with credit bureaus, your bank, and other businesses. You may also need to hire a lawyer and certified public accountant to help fix things.
Even after taking all of the appropriate steps, you’re unlikely to get any of your assets back. If money is stolen, it’s likely gone for good. And recovering your credit can take months if not years.
How An Identity Protection Service Can Help?
That’s why using an identity protection service is a good idea. The best identity protection services offer all of the following:
There are many fantastic identity protection services available, and we’ve tested just about all of them.
In our experience, Aura is the best.
It offers award-winning identity theft and credit monitoring, theft insurance that increases with each adult on your plan, and family plans that allow for up to five adults and unlimited children.
Plus, it has amazing online safety features, like safe gaming and antibullying tools, a password manager, and a secure digital storage vault.
And if your driver’s license is lost or stolen, Aura will help you come up with a plan to secure your identity further – so you don’t have to keep worrying about it.
You can get Aura at an exceptionally affordable rate with our discount code. But if Aura isn’t for you, there are other options available.
The point is this – identity protection services are worth it precisely because of moments like this… when you realize someone stole your driver’s license.
So, if you think someone stole your driver’s license or may be using your personal information, consider signing up for one. You don’t have to navigate the complicated world of identity restoration alone.