Pennsylvania DOT Information Might Not Be Safe

State Departments of Transportation Selling Driver’s License Records

Is the information contained in your driving record safe from individuals and organizations that might misuse that information, or are you at risk of consumer fraud? In other words, should you have concerns about your personal privacy when it comes to submitting information for a driver’s license in Philadelphia? According to a recent report from NBC 10 News, the state of Pennsylvania “has earned more than $157 million since 2010 selling driver records.” Who received the information contained in these records? According to the report “more than 32,000 private companies and government agencies” benefitted from PennDOT selling the information contained in the records.

Do you have a right to privacy when it comes to information about your driving history? How about your local address and phone number? All of this information—and perhaps more—was included when PennDOT sold driver records to companies that included “credit agencies, insurance companies, and car dealerships.” How was that information used by these private and government entities? While the companies and entities that bought (and continue to buy) this information agree that they will only use the data legally, it is possible that this information can get into the wrong hands and might be used for harmful purposes, such as identity theft.

According to the report, PennDOT is not likely to be aware of what happens to this data once it is sold. Specifically, “the state has only checked to see how one company used driver records since 2010,” and the NBC 10 News report alleges that there is “inadequate security” for the records in at least one of the companies to which they were sold.

Privacy Concerns in Your State: Facts and Figures

Does your state sell driver records? If you live in Philadelphia, the report emphasizes that PennDOT may indeed be selling your information. According to NBC 10 News, states in which thousands of driver records have been sold include but are not limited to:

  • Pennsylvania (7,936 companies);
  • New York (1,614 companies);
  • New Jersey (2,384 companies);
  • Ohio (1,572 companies);
  • Florida (1,411 companies);
  • Illinois (1,047 companies);
  • Texas (1,598); and
  • California (1,714).

Other states also sell driver record information, but not in the numbers listed for the states above.

If you live in one of these states, you might have serious concerns about your privacy and the safety of your private information. How large of a problem is identity theft? According to a fact sheet from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, the following statistics show the seriousness of identity theft:

  • About 280,000 consumer complaints reported to the FTC in 2013 involved identity theft;
  • Most common form of identity theft, as reported by consumers, is “government documents/benefits fraud”;
  • Credit card fraud accounts for about 17% of all identity theft complaints, or nearly 48,000 consumer complaints, while phone/utilities fraud accounts for about 14%, or nearly 40,000 consumer complaints;
  • In 2014, around 7% of all persons aged 16 or older were victims of identity theft; and
  • Most identity theft victims (about 86%) “experienced the fraudulent use of existing account information.”

It is important to keep your personal information safe and secure. If you were harmed by identity theft or another form of fraud, an experienced consumer fraud lawyer can help you determine your rights.

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