KSL Investigates: Hundreds of Duplicate Drivers’ Licenses Mailed Out in Error
HERRIMAN, Utah — As part of the migration to gold star driver licenses, KSL Investigators found officials with the Utah Driver License Division sent out hundreds, potentially thousands, of duplicate IDs, raising concerns about the potential for identity theft.
Danielle James has not one, not two, but four valid drivers’ licenses. She received all of them within days of each other earlier this month. They were mailed to her from the DLD.
“Everything’s identical,” James said. “Even the issuance dates, everything. It’s all the same.”
The licenses are currently being mailed out by the DLD as part of the national transition to the new gold star licenses. Every adult in the country will need this new ID by October 2020 to do things like getting on an airplane. DLD officials have been mailing these licenses in batches since February.
James’ delivery of multiple IDs makes her nervous.
“I just thought, OK, if I have three of them, how easy would it be for me to sell them to somebody if I was of that mind?” she said.
According to DLD officials, around 250 people have called their office to notify them that they’ve received duplicates. The office was unsure of how many duplicates in total were sent out, due to complex security processes intended to prevent hacking of their system.
The state also doesn’t know who received the duplicates, so it’s relying on those who get them to let them know. DLD officials said the number could be as high as 7,000 people, as that is the average number of licenses printed in a batch.
Hayden Avis had similar concerns about fraud when he also received three identical drivers’ licenses.
“If you could find somebody that looks somewhat close to you, you could use that,” he said.
Rachel Talbot works with Leavitt Group, an insurance company that offers its customers coverage for identity theft. She said your driver’s license getting into the wrong hands could mean a financial headache.
“You would be opened up to identity theft very quickly,” Talbot said. “It only takes one or two forms of ID to access a lot of information about people.”
Talbot said some identity theft that can occur with access to an individual’s driver’s license include:
- Impersonating the ID’s owner.
- Opening new bank accounts.
- Taking out new credit cards.
- Applying for loans.
- Committing utilities fraud.
- Avoiding traffic violation penalties.
While some might be excited to have backup copies of their ID, Talbot said it’s a bad idea.
“The danger in not destroying a duplicate driver license is the exposure you now have that somebody may get their hands on that,” Talbot said. “If it’s left in a car, left in your home, left in luggage, anything like that could potentially then allow somebody else to take your identity and run with it.”
An Error In A Manual Process
Utah DLD Director Chris Caras said at first the error was thought to be on the part of a third-party vendor but was later discovered to be an error within the DLD. Caras said they had to use a backup manual process one day that proved troublesome.
“There was kind of a digital stutter of sorts,” he said.
While Caras expressed concern over the error, he indicated he is not too worried about identity theft for those who received duplicates of their own license.
“If you received three in the mail, you have a vested interest in controlling those three documents,” he said.
“Keep one, destroy the others,” he said.
We asked about the cost of duplicates going out, and Caras told us each license costs about $2 to produce. If the error is limited to the calls they’ve gotten so far, it will only cost the DLD about $500 from its budget. If the entire batch of 7,000 were duplicated, that could cost upwards of $14,000.
Hundreds Of Thousands Of Licenses Returned
One thing that did worry Caras was the number of licenses that have been returned to his division. Of 1.2 million gold star licenses mailed out so far, over 100,000 have bounced back, marked “return to sender” because the addressee no longer lives at the address on file with the state.
“Legally, you are obligated to notify the Driver License Division if your address changes, for exact reasons like this,” Caras said.
Caras said the DLD needs the entirety of the next year to mail all adult Utahns those new licenses, so having this many returned creates big problems for the division.
If you have moved recently, Caras encourages you to visit the DLD website to update your address.
If you have not yet received your gold star license, you can visit the DLD website and using your current driver’s license number, you can check if your license has been mailed. DLD is not notifying people when they will receive their license due to security reasons.