- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

A federal law that took effect in December prohibits Social Security numbers from being listed on driver’s licenses, but the District’s Department of Motor Vehicles continues offering residents the option of using the familiar numbers.

President Bush signed the law in 2004 to standardize identification documents issued by the states as a piece of anti-terrorism legislation recommended by the 9/11 commission.

Listing a Social Security number on a license or other official identification document is dangerous, according to authorities on identity theft.

For someone who wants to obtain loans or credit cards in another person’s name, having a document with someone’s name, birth date, address and Social Security number is like gold.

Current D.C. driver’s license holders still have the option of keeping their Social Security numbers if they had already been using them, said DMV spokeswoman Janis Hazel.

New license applicants are issued a random computer-generated number.

“I confess, I haven’t read through the law that carefully recently,” DMV general counsel Corey Buffo told the Associated Press. “I guess we’re a little behind the timeline on the federal law. That’s not entirely unusual.”

More than 190,000 licenses and identification cards issued by the D.C. government list Social Security numbers, according to data from the DMV.

An AP survey showed millions of motorists in other states also are carrying licenses with their Social Security numbers.

At least four states still put Social Security numbers on licenses, but said they are reversing their policies after getting inquiries from the AP.

Iowa officials pledged to mail new licenses to nearly 4,000 people who were issued cards with Social Security numbers after the federal law took effect.

About 250,500 D.C. licenses and identification cards already have random identification numbers.

D.C. officials said they had been considering the risk associated with using Social Security numbers and are working to change over to random identification numbers.

“I’m not sure how quickly that’s going to happen,” Mr. Buffo said. “It should just be a matter of turning off the ability for staff to enter a Social Security number.”

DMV officials also were drafting legislation for the D.C. Council this spring to make the city’s law conform with the new national standards, Mr. Buffo said.

Licenses issued in 2001 are up for renewal this year in the District. Phasing out all identification cards with Social Security numbers could take until 2011.

For residents who want to replace their license with a new license number before it expires, the fee is $7, Miss Hazel said.


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