CA: Glitch in DMV crackdown leaves some drivers unable to renew licenses : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

A Department of Motor Vehicles crackdown on identity theft has left thousands of California motorists unable to renew their licenses because the name on the card doesn't precisely match the one attached to their Social Security number.

-- spider (, June 24, 2001


Cross-posting from PRIVACY FORUM:

PRIVACY Forum Digest

Saturday, 23 June 2001

Volume 10 : Issue 05


Moderated by Lauren Weinstein ( Vortex Technology, Woodland Hills, CA, U.S.A.

Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2001 15:49:56 PDT

From: (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)

Subject: Calif. DMV: Identity Theft Prevention System Causes Drivers' Grief

Greetings. If there's one government agency we've been able to historically count on to provide maximum "hassle value" in our lives, it's been the Department of Motor Vehicles. Those wonderful driver's license photos notwithstanding, the DMV has traditionally been one of the places to which we nearly all must routinely return and that we all routinely dislike dealing with at all.

In recent years, at least here in California, there have been significant improvements at the DMV, particularly in terms of mail-in license renewals, availability of appointments, and so on. But one bizarre aspect of a new "anti-fraud" program by the California DMV can't help but make me wonder if someone is asleep at the switch.

As you probably know, the connection between driver's licenses and Social Security Numbers has become increasingly tight in recent years, with data matching being used for various verifications, searches for delinquent child-support payments, and so on. We've discussed these issues in the past here in the PRIVACY Forum.

But the Calif. DMV (henceforth referred to simply as "DMV") has started something new. They're cross-checking the names on driver's licenses at renewal times with Social Security Administration records. The idea is to reduce the incidence of fake IDs being issued with false names associated with various SSNs.

The Social Security Administration is a fairly enlightened organization it seems--they fully understand that "Bill Gates" is a nickname for "William Gates." But the DMV, in their new fraud prevention program, shows less common sense than the average eight- year-old would display in a similar situation.

Yep--if your Social Security record says your name is Susan, but your driver's license says Susie (even if this has been the case for many years or decades) DMV will now reject your renewal. Bob and Robert? David and Dave? These are hardly unusual nicknames, but DMV apparently will reject them all if they don't match up between your license and Social Security records. The same problem is occuring with persons who adopted hyphenated names after marriage.

Right now, this apparently has affected about a half million people (around 11% of all renewal applicants). The folks caught up in this inanity can't just make a quick call and clear it up either. DMV's answer to the problem is to *change your name* in the Social Security records to match your driver's license! And even after people go through the hassle of that change, it may take many weeks to get their new license.

DMV suggests that after everyone has changed their Social Security name records so that everything matches up, they won't have more problems in the future (except that DMV is also suggesting that new forms of SSN verification at renewal time will probably be required in upcoming years).

This whole situation is utter nonsense. Accepting "Bob Crane" on a driver's license when it says "Robert Crane" on a Social Security record wouldn't reduce the efficacy of the DMV anti-fraud program by one iota. It would, however, greatly reduce the hassles and problems for their customers, issues which the DMV apparently considers to be low priorities.

Or maybe the DMV just doesn't know how to match up nicknames? Well, I can help with that. It took me just thirty seconds flat (on Google) to find a concise list ( which is currently online for DMV's immediate perusal!

Cutting down the levels of identity fraud is a laudable goal. But some common sense really needs to be introduced into the mix as far as the California DMV is concerned.

--Lauren-- Lauren Weinstein or or Co-Founder, PFIR: People For Internet Responsibility - Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy


-- Andre Weltman (, June 25, 2001.

NEVER give your SS# to the DMV! You can get
a license without this disclosure. You just
have to be firm and not capitulate. Your SS#
should only be given to your employer, the SS,
your bank and any other entity that needs to
report your earnings to the SS. The DMV is
breaking the law, PL 93-579 Sec. 7b, when they
ask you for your number. Refuse! Resist! Revolt!

-- spider (, June 25, 2001.

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