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What To Do If You Lose Your Driver’s License

Losing your driver’s license can leave you feeling exposed. Without that little plastic card in your wallet, you lose your primary government-issued ID used to prove your identity and legally drive a vehicle.

But it goes beyond just the inconvenience of replacing your license. There is the more ominous threat of identity theft if your license falls into the wrong hands. Criminals can exploit everything on your driver’s license to impersonate you and wreak havoc on your finances and reputation.

This comprehensive guide will walk you step-by-step through exactly what to do if you lose your license or it is stolen. Follow these tips to minimize damage and protect your identity.

What To Do If You Lose Your Driver’s License

If you discover your driver‘s license is missing, you should take the following actions immediately:

  • Report it lost or stolen to the DMV
  • Check your driving record for fraudulent activity
  • Request a new license number when replacing it
  • Monitor your credit reports and bank statements
  • Place fraud alerts and security freezes with the credit bureaus
  • File a police report documenting the missing license

Taking quick action can help reduce your risks. But it‘s also crucial to remain vigilant moving forward by routinely checking your records and watching for any signs of suspicious activity.

Just How Dangerous Is It If Someone Has Your License?

Your driver’s license contains a wealth of sensitive personal information identity thieves can exploit:

  • Full legal name
  • Physical address
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s license number
  • Photograph

According to the 2022 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy, over 1.4 million cases of identity theft stemmed from stolen wallets or other physical documents.

With just your license, identity thieves can:

  • Open financial accounts in your name
  • Access your health insurance benefits
  • Change your mailing address to steal incoming mail
  • File a fraudulent tax return to steal your refund
  • Apply for loans or credit cards
  • Rent an apartment if landlords don’t run credit checks
  • Pass background checks for jobs
  • Buy alcohol and cigarettes if not age-verified
  • Commit crimes and give your name if arrested

About 16% of identity theft cases originate from a lost or stolen wallet or ID. And your driver‘s license is one of the three main documents used by criminals, alongside credit cards and Social Security cards.

This alarming threat means it‘s essential to act fast if your license winds up in the wrong hands.

12 Vital Steps To Take If Your License Is Lost or Stolen

If you discover your driver‘s license has been lost, stolen or is being used fraudulently, here are 12 steps to take right away:

1. Report it to the DMV immediately

Every state has procedures to report and replace lost or stolen licenses. Contact your local DMV by phone, email, online or in person. They will invalidate your current license number and can provide documentation to prove it‘s missing.

2. Request a new license number

Ask the DMV to issue you a brand new license number when they create your replacement license. This adds an extra layer of protection to prevent the stolen license from being used.

3. Check your driving record

Order a copy of your driving record or motor vehicle report from the DMV. Look for any traffic tickets, violations, crashes or crimes recorded under your license that you didn’t actually commit. Dispute any fraudulent incidents.

4. File a police report

File a police report about your stolen identity document with local law enforcement. Get a copy of the official report to submit to the DMV and credit bureaus.

5. Contact all three credit bureaus

Notify Equifax, Experian and TransUnion that your ID was stolen. Place initial fraud alerts on your credit files requiring lenders to verify your identity when opening new accounts. Order copies of your credit reports to check for suspicious activity.

6. Monitor financial statements closely

Carefully review your bank and credit card statements looking for signs of unauthorized access or charges. Report any suspicious transactions to your financial institutions ASAP. Sign up for account alerts to stay updated on all activity.

7. Review medical records

Contact your health insurance providers to request copies of your medical records. Look for any suspicious or fraudulent medical services received or prescriptions filled in your name.

8. Check tax filing status

Reach out to the IRS to see if any fraudulent tax returns have been filed under your identity. Criminals sometimes rush to file taxes early and claim your refund.

9. Secure your mail

Sign up for the USPS Informed Delivery service to receive email notifications whenever mail is on the way to your home. Consider getting a PO box or mailbox lock. File an official change of address (COA) form if you move.

10. Search public records

Conduct searches for your name in databases of public records. Ensure no fraudulent criminal records, property deeds, marriage/divorce filings, payday loans or court judgments are associated with your identity.

11. Monitor your online presence

Run Google searches for your name and check people finder sites like Spokeo and Whitepages. Make sure your identity isn’t showing up on websites it shouldn’t be. Remove yourself from unsafe data broker sites.

12. Enable login alerts

Turn on account alerts with your email, social media, and financial accounts to receive notifications whenever someone logs in. Use strong unique passwords and set up two-factor authentication for enhanced security.

Taking quick preventative action can help reduce the fallout from a lost or stolen license. But you must remain vigilant moving forward.

5 Critical Ways To Keep Tabs on Your Identity

After addressing the initial loss, you need to monitor your identity continuously to ensure it’s not being misused:

  • Request credit reports every 4 months – Federal law entitles you to a free report from each major bureau annually at AnnualCreditReport.com. Spread them out to monitor consistently.

  • Monitor bank statements weekly – Carefully scrutinize all transactions and report anything suspicious promptly to your bank.

  • Review medical records regularly – Ask for copies of your records from each healthcare provider every 6 months to check for inaccuracies.

  • Google yourself routinely – Search for your name regularly to uncover any unwanted associations with your identity online or in public records.

  • Use dark web monitoring tools – Services like LifeLock and IDNotify scan dark web sites for personal info and alert you if found.

Remaining vigilant is crucial to detecting signs of potential identity theft early. If you do spot fraudulent activity, be sure to report it, file a complaint with the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov, and use your police report to dispute it.

Lost Driver‘s License FAQs Answered

If you lost your driver‘s license, you probably have a lot of questions about the impacts. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How can someone use my lost license fraudulently?

Thieves can use your lost license to open financial accounts, access medical care, change your address for mail fraud, apply for loans or benefits, register vehicles, fly domestically, buy age-restricted products, or provide false identification if arrested.

What are the risks if someone has just my license number?

While less risky than having the physical license, thieves can still use your license number to create fake IDs, obtain some public records, or combine with other info for identity theft.

Is it safe to email my driver‘s license?

No, it‘s never a good idea to send your license via email, even encrypted. Only send it digitally if absolutely essential for a legitimate purpose using a secured portal that verifies the recipient‘s identity.

How long does it take to get a replacement license?

The timeframe to get a replacement license ranges between 7-14 days in most states. Some may be able to print you a temporary paper license immediately while your new card is processed and mailed.

Can I change my license number?

Yes, every DMV allows you to change your driver‘s license number, usually by requesting it when you fill out the replacement form. Some states automatically issue new numbers on replacements.

How much does it cost to replace a lost license?

The fee to replace a lost or stolen driver’s license ranges between $5 and $30 in most states. Some will charge an additional fee if you need to retake the photo.

What if I lost my license out of state?

If you lost your license while traveling out of state, you will need to request a replacement from your home state‘s DMV. Most can process replacements remotely, even if the loss occurred elsewhere.

How can I prevent someone from using my lost license?

As soon as you realize it’s lost, report it to the DMV, request a new number, monitor your credit and accounts closely, place fraud alerts on your credit, sign up for login alerts, and consider credit freezes to prevent thieves from exploiting your lost license.

Securing Your Data in the Digital Age

In addition to physically losing your license, you need to be mindful about how you digitally store and share your license and other personal information. Here are tips to keep it secure:

  • Never post photos containing your license on social media or public sites. Cropping it out of images is wise.

  • Be cautious emailing your license, even encrypted. Only do so when absolutely mandatory for official purposes.

  • Save a digital copy only when required, such as for a mobile app. Store it securely using encryption.

  • When making digital copies, black out the license number, ghost your address leaving just city/state, and obscure the barcode on the back.

  • Share documentation containing your license selectively using secure tools like DocSend or encrypted email.

  • Remove metadata containing geotags and personal details from any license photos stored digitally.

  • Don‘t carry both your Social Security card and license in your wallet. Leave one at home locked up.

Following sound identity protection practices for your digital footprint limits exposure if your license gets lost or you suffer a data breach.

How Identity Theft Protection Can Safeguard You

A good identity theft protection service can provide an extra layer of monitoring and protection if your license is lost or stolen:

  • Dark web monitoring – Scans black market sites for personal info like SSNs and license numbers that get leaked or sold.

  • Credit monitoring – Regular 3-bureau credit reports and alerts to spot suspicious new accounts opened with your license info.

  • Bank transaction monitoring – Flags unauthorized charges or cash withdrawals from your bank accounts.

  • Criminal record monitoring – Alerts you if crimes are committed under your identity with your lost license.

  • Restoration services – Identity theft insurance and dedicated caseworkers to help recover from fraud.

  • Real-time notifications – Immediate alerts if your personal information appears compromised anywhere.

  • Fraud prevention tools – Services to lock and monitor your credit reports.

Top-rated providers like LifeLock, IdentityForce, IDNotify, and Identity Guard provide robust protection against misuse of your lost or stolen driver’s license, in addition to other identity theft risks.

Take Control If You Lose Your License

Losing your driver‘s license can certainly be stressful. But you can take back control by acting swiftly to get a replacement license, monitor for fraudulent activity, and implement preventative measures.

Be sure to report the loss to the DMV immediately and request a new license number. Check your driving record, credit reports, and account statements vigilantly for signs of misuse.

Placing fraud alerts and freezes with the credit bureaus adds critical identity theft precautions after a lost or stolen license.

While it‘s annoying to replace a lost license, following these steps quickly can help protect your identity and minimize the risk of major consequences from ID theft. With some diligence, you can recover promptly and move on from a lost or stolen license.

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Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.