Lost Your ID? Here Are The Risks (And How To Protect Yourself)

February 15, 2024


 Minute Read

In this article:

    Shield Icon

    Identity theft and fraud protection for your finances, personal info, and devices.

    Get Identity Guard

    Can Someone Steal Your Identity With Your ID?

    The scary truth is that scammers can steal your identity by using nearly every piece of personal ID in your wallet or purse. Any document that contains your full name, address, date of birth, photograph, or signature can be used to steal your identity and target you with scams. 

    What’s even more alarming is that identity thieves don’t need your physical ID card to steal your identity. For example, if a company that stores your ID gets hacked, fraudsters can potentially get access to your personally identifiable information (PII).

    Last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly 8,000 reports of stolen or forged driver’s licenses — an increase of more than 40% from the year before [*].

    With identity theft on the rise, it’s important to understand what someone can do with your ID. 

    In this guide, we’ll explain what types of malicious schemes scammers can pull off with your ID, and what to do if you think your ID has been stolen or leaked.

    🛡️ Protect your identity, credit, home title, and assets. For over 25 years, more than 38 million people have trusted Identity Guard to help keep them safe. Try Identity Guard risk-free today with plans starting at $6.67/month (including a 60-day money-back guarantee).

    What Can Someone Do With Your Lost or Stolen ID? 

    1. Steal your identity
    2. Impersonate you when dealing with banks and other institutions
    3. Sell your ID on the Dark Web
    4. Use your ID to create a synthetic identity
    5. Target you with sophisticated phishing scams
    6. Perpetrate a change-of-address scam to steal your mail
    7. Use your identity when committing crimes
    8. Scam your friends and family online

    Whether you’ve lost your ID, wallet, or purse (or recently discovered that your personal information was leaked in a data breach), you need to know the risks. 

    Here’s what scammers can do with your ID — and what you can do to protect yourself:

    1. Steal your identity

    Your personal identification contains enough key information to allow criminals to commit multiple types of identity theft.

    Along with accessing your financial accounts, scammers could create a fake ID in your name and use it to receive medical services. In other scenarios, fraudsters could use the information on your ID to search the Dark Web for more sensitive leaked information — including your Social Security number (SSN), bank account numbers, and more.

    What you can do: Monitor your identity for signs of fraud. On your own, it’s nearly impossible to monitor all of the places in which your leaked personal information might show up. 

    Identity Guard’s award-winning identity theft protection service scans billions of data points — including the Dark Web, recent data breaches, public records, and more — to warn you if your identity has been compromised. Learn more about how Identity Guard keeps you safe

    2. Impersonate you when dealing with banks and other institutions

    Even if your driver’s license or other form of ID is expired, many banks still accept it as a valid form of ID — giving scammers an easier way to access your bank accounts, make withdrawals, or even order new credit cards and debit cards in your name. 

    You may not realize these fraudulent accounts exist until they appear on your credit report or you’re contacted by a debt collector. 

    What you can do: Regularly review your credit reports. If fraudsters have used your identification to open new accounts with lenders, it will show up on your credit report. 

    You can order a free credit report from all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) at AnnualCreditReport.com. But for added security, it’s better to invest in a three-bureau credit monitoring service

    💡 Related: Can Someone Steal Your Identity With Just Your Name and Date of Birth?

    3. Sell your ID on the Dark Web

    One of the most common ways that fraudsters make money is by selling leaked or stolen IDs on the Dark Web. 

    a table showing the price of forged documents on Dark Web forums including a USA passport and ID
    Example of leaked documents prices on the Dark Web. Source: Dark Web Price Index 2023.

    Personal identification — such as stolen driver’s licenses and passports or even photos of your ID — can be sold on the Dark Web for costs ranging from $22 to $110 and more [*].

    ⚠️ Get warned if your identity has been compromised. Identity Guard’s award-winning identity theft protection monitors your most sensitive information and alerts you in near real-time if it’s been leaked. Save 33% when you sign up for Identity Guard today.

    4. Use your ID to create a synthetic identity

    One of the fastest growing types of identity theft is known as synthetic identity theft. This occurs when scammers combine real information from your stolen ID (or the Dark Web) with fake details to create a “new” identity that they can use to open bank accounts or apply for government benefits. 

    Among other dangers, if scammers use your SSN or other identifying information in their synthetic identity, any fraud or crimes they commit can end up on your records. 

    What you can do: Monitor your SSN. Monitoring your Social Security number is one of the only ways to know if you’re the victim of synthetic identity theft. Learn more about how to monitor your SSN.

    5. Target you with sophisticated phishing scams

    Any personal information can be used against you in phishing or other impersonation scams. For example, a fake text message, social media DM, or email will seem much more believable if it includes your personal information — such as your home address, email, or phone number.

    What you can do: Know the red flags of a phishing scam. Watch for poor grammar or spelling in emails and texts, callers that pressure you to act quickly, and messages asking you to provide or “verify” sensitive information — such as your SSN, driver’s license number, or bank login information. 

    💡 Related: 15 Facebook Scams You Didn't Know About (Until Now)

    6. Perpetrate a change-of-address scam to steal your mail

    Fraudsters can submit a change-of-address (COA) request to the United States Postal Service (USPS) with just your home address and some basic information. This reroutes your mail to an address that the scammers control, compromising any of the sensitive personal data included on your bank statements, tax returns, and more.

    The USPS web page for disputing a change-of-address order asking for your ZIP code and the order key
    Example of how to dispute a change-of-address request online. Source: USPS.com.

    What you can do: Track and dispute a change-of-address request. If you receive a COA request but didn’t ask for it, you can notify USPS online. Identity Guard can also track your home address and alert you if it shows up somewhere it shouldn’t, such as in a fraudulent COA request. 

    7. Use your identity when committing crimes

    One of the scariest things that fraudsters can do with your identity is use it when committing crimes. Criminal identity theft occurs when scammers use forged or stolen IDs during crimes or traffic violations — which could leave you to deal with the fallout. 

    What you can do: Track your identity in public records. Identity Guard scans public records to find criminal charges or infractions committed in your name. 

    8. Scam your friends and family online

    With the data included on your ID, scammers can create fake online profiles, phone numbers, and email addresses, and use them to scam your friends and family. For example, a con artist may use your information to create a fake Facebook profile and send messages to your family members asking for money or manipulating them to click on malicious links.

    🥇 Don’t settle for second-best identity protection. Identity Guard has been rated #1 by Forbes Advisor for offering trustworthy identity theft and fraud protection, reliable support, and up to $1 million in insurance coverage. Try Identity Guard for yourself today.

    How To Tell If Someone Is Using Your ID

    • Your wallet, purse, or ID card is missing. If your wallet or purse goes missing, or if you lose any ID card, you should assume that your ID has been compromised. Immediately report the lost card or document to the relevant authorities, and take proactive measures to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. 
    • You receive a data breach notification. If a company that stores your personal information is hacked and you get notified about a data breach, it’s possible that criminals have access to your ID and other sensitive details. 
    • There are unfamiliar accounts or loans listed on your credit report. If you run a credit report and see new bank accounts, loans, or credit cards that were opened without your knowledge, it’s likely that a hacker got access to your ID.
    • You suddenly can’t access your online accounts. A hacker might have gained access to your important online account details if you can’t log in. Scammers can use your ID to change credentials and lock you out of the account. 
    • You get a fraud warning from your bank or financial institution. Most banks and credit card companies send notifications if a transaction is flagged as fraud. If you get a fraud warning and you don’t recognize the charge or transfer, it could be a hacker using your stolen credit card or bank information. 
    • You receive strange statements in the mail (or your mail stops arriving altogether). If you stop getting mail at home, this is a red flag signaling that you could be the victim of a change-of-address scam. Another telltale sign of a mail scam is getting a letter from the USPS confirming or verifying a change of address that you did not submit.
    • You’re contacted about a debt or crime that you know nothing about. If you get contacted by a debt collector about unpaid bills or loans, it could mean that a scammer has gotten ahold of your ID. Or, you might receive a letter about a court date for a crime you didn't commit. 

    💡 Related: How Much Does Identity Theft Protection Cost (and Do You Need It)?

    Was Your ID Lost, Stolen, or Leaked? Do This!

    If you discover that your ID is lost, stolen, or leaked, it’s important to take action right away. 

    Here’s what to do if you think someone is using your identity:

    • Report your lost ID. Notify local law enforcement and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about your stolen ID. You can ask the DMV to place a “Verify ID” flag on your license in case someone tries to use it fraudulently. If you’ve lost your Social Security card, you should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) office. Lost passports can be reported to your local passport office.
    • Apply for a replacement ID. Request a new driver’s license from the DMV, or apply for a new passport if your old one was stolen or lost. If your driver’s license was stolen or lost, you shouldn’t drive until you receive a temporary or new license in the mail. 
    • Freeze your credit. It’s a good idea to request credit freezes with all three major bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You will need to contact each bureau individually. This will prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name.
    • File an identity theft report. If you believe you’re the victim of identity theft, you should submit an identity theft report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov, especially if your ID has been stolen or leaked. Once you submit the report, you will receive a personal recovery plan.
    • Protect your accounts. If you think someone is using your identity, it’s smart to protect your existing accounts with new, unique, and strong passwords — along with two-factor authentication (2FA), whenever it’s available. 
    • Request a background check. Run a background check on your name and personal data to identify arrests, criminal charges, or debt collections that you don’t recognize. If you notice anything suspicious, call local law enforcement and file a police report.
    • Sign up for ID theft protection. Using an identity theft protection service makes it easy to monitor every corner of the web for leaked information, like your address and driver’s license number. You’ll get notified about potential fraud in near real-time so that you can act quickly. 

    The Bottom Line: A Lost ID Can Unlock Your Identity

    If identity thieves get their hands on your stolen or leaked personal identification, it can be used for all sorts of malicious purposes — from scams to identity fraud.

    To protect yourself against fraudsters, consider signing up for Identity Guard’s all-in-one solution that includes award-winning identity theft monitoring, real-time fraud alerts, Dark Web scanning, credit monitoring, and $1 million in identity theft insurance.

    Get protection against identity theft and fraud. Save 33% on Identity Guard today.

    Related Articles

    Close-up view of a blue pencil resting on a partially visible driver's license application, as if to indicate license theft

    Stolen Driver’s License? Stay Calm — Here’s What To Do

    Is your driver’s license lost or stolen? If so, you may be at risk for identity theft.

    Read More

    February 14, 2024

    Stolen Driver’s License? Stay Calm — Here’s What To Do
    A user's hands interacting with a laptop and phone, alongside holographic elements that appear to hover in the air

    Do You Need Identity Theft Protection? How To Decide

    Do I need identity theft protection? With fraud on the rise, a proactive approach is crucial. But can you do it yourself?

    Read More

    January 15, 2024

    Do You Need Identity Theft Protection? How To Decide

    Get Started with Identity Guard

    Get started with Identity Guard today, risk-free.

    Get Protected Today
    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