There’s a single, simple card that thieves could use to steal your identity if they got their hands on it. You probably carry it with you almost every day. It’s your driver’s license.
While many people are well aware of the risks that they face from credit card fraud, less attention is paid to what can happen if your driver’s license is lost or stolen. But like many other forms of identity theft, the aftereffects are never seen immediately.
What can thieves do with your driver’s license?
Your license contains a photo of you, as well as your name, address, age and other personal details. If you’re lucky and your license is stolen by a young thief, your best bet is that he or she will try to impersonate you in order to purchase alcohol or tobacco products. Not a great outcome by any means, but nothing that will harm your finances or leave a mark on your criminal record.
However, the most likely scenario is that a thief will use your license to avoid traffic violation penalties. If they are pulled over, all they have to do is pass off your license as their own. If the officer is convinced, the ticket will be written under your name. This is quite convenient for our thief but less so for you, as you’ll eventually be summoned to court to answer for the fine that you failed to pay, since you didn’t know that it existed.
This won’t happen immediately. Police won’t necessarily burst through your door one night because you have an unpaid ticket. But if you encounter an officer of the law for any other reason, they may spot this outstanding issue while conducting a background check. The same could be said of potential employers considering you for a job. You could suddenly find yourself in a world of trouble without understanding why.
What to do when you lose your driver’s license?
It doesn’t matter if your wallet or purse is stolen, or if you simply lose track of the contents of your pockets. If you believe that you have lost your driver’s license, there are some important steps that you must take immediately, according to DMV.org.
- Contact the police. This is the first thing you want to do if you believe you have been robbed. Not only is there a chance that police might find the thief, but the existence of a police report will also help you contest any fraud committed in your name.
- Place a freeze on your credit reports. The information contained on your license could be used by a thief to create a financial account in your name. Seeking a freeze will prevent this from happening, and could protect you from some of the worst consequences of identity theft.
- Notify your state DMV. To prevent thieves from using your license as their own, your state may flag the number so police know that it has been stolen.
- Don’t drive until you get a replacement license! This goes without saying. You should get a new license as soon as possible, but you absolutely shouldn’t drive without one. Don’t risk additional violations during this stressful time.
We are always at risk of identity theft, in one form or another. The best thing we can do is act proactively to protect ourselves. An identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can help by monitoring your credit file, Social Security Number and public records. Our service will alert you to certain activity in your credit file that could be indicative of fraud, allowing you to take action immediately.