Does anyone else’s brain have certain topics that it zones out on? I am not sure why, but remembering to renew my driver’s license on time is a real struggle for me. Maybe it’s the years-long gap in between expirations. I’ve inexcusably dropped the ball on the renewal process two times in a row now. Thank goodness I have never had a traffic violation (ever!), especially during one of these mind-lapse/license-lapse periods. And honestly, there’s not a more exhausting experience for me than the thought of driving to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. And now the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is a target for identity theft.

It’s not personal; the workers there have always been helpful, it’s just the multiple long and confusing lines that drain years (this may be a slight exaggeration) from my life. And it doesn’t matter what day or time of day you go: you’re stuck. However, I must admit that the process this year proved enlightening, as I learned that there are new federal travel restrictions requiring secure identification for the state of Ohio, which will become effective in 2020.

A brief overview: starting in October 2020, the new federal travel restriction will make it a requirement for anyone looking to fly domestically, enter federal facilities or military bases to possess a “compliant card.” The newly issued compliant card is the equivalent of a driver’s license on steroids. To obtain a compliant card when renewing a license, customers will have to bring in additional documentation: passport or birth certificate, social security card, and two additional documents proving residential address to name of few. While the compliant license is said to be infinitely harder to fake, the bottom line is that it also stores a lot of valuable personal data on it as well.

Identity theft is defined as the illegal use of someone else’s personal information (PII), such as social security number, birth date, or driver’s license number; to impersonate another person especially with the intent to obtain money or credit. Identity theft happens hourly and affects millions of people worldwide each year. In fact, a recent well-documented security breach at the credit-reporting agency Equifax potentially exposed over 145 million customers to identity theft. There are also multiple types of identity theft: Child ID theft, Tax ID theft, and Medical ID theft, just to list a few. And whether a fraudster is using your PII to open a new line of credit, falsify your tax returns with the IRS, or fraudulently billing your health insurance provider it’s serious and downright scary stuff! Unfortunately, I’ve read about countless identity theft victims that ended up losing everything. The threat is real.

The undisputable reason identity theft is on the rise is because your PII is a lucrative commodity. According to Experian, a consumer credit reporting agency, the ten most common pieces of information sold on the dark web and their estimated worth (what they typically sell for) are as follows:

Social security number: $1

Credit or debit card: $5-$110 (with CVV number: $5, with bank info $15, Full info $30)

Online payment services login info (e.g., Paypal): $20-$200

Driver’s license: $20

Loyalty accounts: $20

General non-financial institution logins: $1

Diplomas: $100-$400

Passports (US): $1,000-$2,000

Subscription services: $1-$10

Medical records: anywhere from $1 to $1,000 or more!

While the listed prices can change over time, or be dependent on how complete the information stolen is, and vary per person (an individual with a high credit rating can fetch higher money than someone with a lesser credit score), the estimates per PII is staggering. Remember — the Equifax breach was 145 million records!

1 2