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What Happens When Your Driver’s License Is Stolen?

Posted: Feb 2024

TL;DR: How To

  • Setup USPS account that alerts you to Change of Address notices and incoming mail.
  • Setup MFA everywhere! [Yes, it is a pain. We get it, but it’s a bigger pain to get your identity back.]
  • Add security questions at your banking institutions.
  • Freeze your credit through the major credit reporting agencies. [Experian, Equifax, and Transunion]

So, you’re traveling for business, rushing through airport security. Through the crush of people your focus is on getting to your destination. Jostling travel bags make their way along conveyor belts. Driver’s license in hand you try to look as inconspicuous as possible to the TSA agents who bark orders to you and your fellow travelers. They wave you through and you quickly pocket your ID. The goal here is to retrieve your phone and belongings quickly. Germs, people, and anxiety – it’s the experience we all have in airports. Get in, get out.

The phone gets added to your back pocket, and off you go. Maybe it’s time to hit up the Starbucks?

With an hour left until take off the phone is an easy distraction to pass the time. Pull out phone, browse social media, check emails, or maybe stream that show you’re currently binging. What you don’t notice is that in the haste of the airport bustle and boarding, your ID has fallen out of your back pocket. It lands soundlessly on the floor. A small, polished card – seemingly insignificant. Quietly, a stranger plucks the driver’s license from where it lays. The day, the trip, continues.

It isn’t until later that the question of where that little card went sends you on a search. Bags searched, pockets turned out, and brain racked trying to remember where it could be. Meanwhile, a stranger in another state wonders how to take advantage of this opportunity. The first thing they do is submit a change of address…

Don’t Let a Lost Driver’s License Lead to Lost Identity: Solutions for Safeguarding Yourself

Losing your driver’s license while traveling can be stressful, but the real danger lies in the potential for identity theft. Don’t panic! Here are some proactive steps you can take to minimize the damage and protect your identity:

Immediate Action:

  1. File a police report: Document the theft with a police report. This crucial step serves as proof of the incident and aids in potential legal action.
  2. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Report your missing license and request a replacement. Most states offer expedited options for travelers.
  3. Freeze your credit: Contact all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) and freeze your credit reports. This prevents new accounts from being opened in your name.
  4. Notify banks and financial institutions: Alert your bank, credit card companies, and other financial institutions about the stolen license. This helps them identify and prevent fraudulent activity.
  5. Change online passwords: Update your passwords for all online accounts, especially those linked to your driver’s license information. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.

Proactive Protection:

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA): This extra layer of security requires more than just your password to access accounts. Implement MFA wherever possible, including email, banking, and social media.
  2. Sign-up for a free USPS account. Not only does it allow you to monitor your mail digitally, but you’ll get notices if someone submits a change of address in your name.
  3. Monitor credit reports: Regularly check your credit reports for suspicious activity. You can get free annual reports from each credit bureau or consider an identity theft monitoring service.
  4. Secure your belongings: Invest in a travel wallet with RFID blocking technology to prevent contactless theft of your driver’s license or other data. Be mindful of your surroundings and keep your belongings close when traveling.
  5. Limit information stored on your license: Consider getting a separate ID card for non-driving purposes, minimizing the information exposed if your driver’s license is lost.

Travel with Awareness:

  • Store copies securely: Leave a copy of your driver’s license and passport information with a trusted friend or family member in case of emergency.
  • Download offline maps and apps: Minimize reliance on public Wi-Fi, which can be vulnerable, by having offline access to essential information and communication tools.
  • Be vigilant: Stay aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to authorities.

Remember, even with these precautions, vigilance is key. By acting quickly and implementing good security practices, you can minimize the impact of a lost driver’s license and protect yourself from identity theft. Don’t let a small card turn your trip into a major headache!

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