Drivers to get new ID numbers

The removal of Social Security number from driver’s licenses is due to more identity thefts.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:28 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If you have your Social Security number on your driver’s license, get ready to memorize a new number.

Effective Dec. 19, Social Security numbers can no longer be used as identification numbers on a Missouri driver’s license.

A federal law, the Federal Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, requires the removal of Social Security numbers from driver’s licenses, permits or nondriver licenses. All licenses issued after Jan. 1 will have a random, computer-generated identification number consisting of one letter and nine numbers.

The 2.3 million Missourians who have Social Security numbers on their licenses have two options to get updated, said Lowell Pearson, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Revenue. They can wait until they are due to have their licenses renewed or head immediately to their local Department of Revenue branch office for a new number, she said.

“They don’t have to do anything,” Pearson said of those with Social Security numbers on their licenses. “As people’s licenses come up for renewal, it will have a randomly generated number on it.”

There is a cost to update identification numbers early.

“If you have a six-year license, there is a fee of $12.50. For a three-year license, the fee is $10,” Pearson said.

Changing your number before your license is due for renewal will not change its expiration date.

Missouri residents have had the option of having an identification number other than their Social Security number since March 1992.

The removal of Social Security numbers from driver’s licenses is in response to an increase in identity theft.

“The risk of having your Social Security number on your driver’s license is that your info is given to anyone you hand your driver license over to,” said Sgt. Ken Hammond of the Columbia Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit.

“Social Security numbers are unique identifiers,” he said. “Everything from medical to financial to driving records are attached to that number.”

Hammond said removing Social Security numbers from driver’s licenses will reduce the number of identity thefts and related crimes such as illegal Internet purchases.

The switch years ago to using Social Security numbers on licenses was an attempt at boosting efficiency, but times have changed, Pearson said. “There has been substantial sentiment that it’s a good idea not to have Social Security numbers on driver’s licenses for identity-theft purposes.”

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