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Posting your driver’s license not a smart idea, DMV warns

Sure there are bragging rights for a young person who just got a driver’s license or even a learner permit. But posting an image of either on social media could lead to an unwanted collision with an identity thief.

That’s the warning from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which says licenses and permits contain the type of sensitive information that in the wrong hands could cause “a lifetime of compromised credit and financial ruin.”

Posting the images is like offering an invitation to the thieves, according to police.

Driver licenses contain a person’s full name, date of birth, home address, personal details such as height and eye color and a DMV identification number often required by retailers when customers write checks to make purchases.

“Passing a driver’s test is a very exciting time in a young person’s life and DMV understands why teens are excited to show off their permits and licenses,” DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said. “Just don’t make your personal information public in the process. Having your identity stolen and your privacy compromised is not a good way to celebrate getting your driver license.”

And there are other ramifications.

Down the road, identity theft victims could find out that their driving records are filled with infractions they had nothing to do with.

That happens when the identity thief creates a fake license using all of the information from an authentic license. The person with the counterfeit license, officials say, then racks up tickets and ignores them.

And for those young people who think the DMV is having a typical adult overreaction, consider this:

For the last 15 years, identity theft has been ranked as the top consumer complaint by the Federal Trade Commission and 6 percent of identity theft victims are 19 years old or younger.

Tips that something may be amiss include mail from government agencies, such as a DMV suspension notice, or suspicious phone calls from retail outlets granting “instant credit,” even though the individual has no knowledge of seeking it.

DMV officials say that those who have evidence that another person has a driver license, registration document or title certificate in their name, or evidence that another person used their identity and DMV ID number for fraudulent purposes should request an F1-17 “Report for Unauthorized Use Form” from a DMV call center or DMV office. The evidence can include traffic tickets, forged personal checks or documents that contain the DMV ID number from the motorist’s driver license, learner permit, or non-driver ID.

Other actions that are recommended include:

• Filing a police report.

• Notifying financial institutions and creditors.

• Obtaining and reviewing a personal credit report.