Home Advice & How-ToIdentity Stolen ID? It’s Time to Change Your Driver’s License Number
Home Advice & How-ToIdentity Stolen ID? It’s Time to Change Your Driver’s License Number

Stolen ID? It’s Time to Change Your Driver’s License Number

by Fred Decker

Realizing you’ve lost or misplaced your crucial pieces of identification – a wallet, your driver’s license, your credit cards or your SSN card – can be a real heart-stopping moment. It’s even worse if you’re pretty sure it was stolen because then you can confidently assume it’s in the hands of criminals. 

There’s a lot a scammer can do once they’ve got your driver’s license, and none of it is good. One way to proactively protect yourself against that threat is to reach out to your state’s DMV and have them change your driver’s license number. We’ll explain why you should act quickly and how the process works. 

Criminals Love a Driver’s License

For identity thieves, getting their hands on your driver’s license is a home run. It’s right up there with stealing your SSN or a complete set of your usernames and passwords because a driver’s license is one of the fundamental pieces of ID that’s used to validate everything else, from passports to a new cellular account. 

With the details of your license, a scammer can easily look up enough additional information through criminal sources (the identity-theft marketplaces of the Dark Web) to impersonate you effectively. They might also create copies of your license with someone else’s name and photo to establish what’s called a synthetic identity


In a worst-case scenario, criminals might use your driver’s license and identity in their interactions with the police for something as (relatively) innocuous as a traffic violation or as serious as a felony arrest. Once they’ve driven away or been released on bail, they can simply change their identity and disappear. You’re left holding the bag, which can make for an, unfortunately (ahem) “interesting” relationship with local law enforcement

Change a Driver’s License Number

The details of how you go about ordering a new driver’s license and having the number changed will vary depending which state you live in. If you don’t have your state’s DMV bookmarked, you can find a complete list of links at the federal USA.gov website. Look up your own state, click through to your DMV’s website, and then follow the on-site navigation to learn the process you’ll need to follow to have your license replaced (you can also call and ask if you prefer). In most cases, you’ll find two separate procedures, one for the simple replacement of a lost license – a straight-up replacement with the same number – and a more stringent one if your license has been stolen and you need the number changed. 

In Colorado, for example, you’ll need to file a police report with your local law enforcement agency, download and complete an Affidavit of Identity Theft form, have your signature on the form notarized, and then bring those forms in-person to your nearest DMV office. Once you’ve taken those steps to place the identity theft on record and validate your identity, the state will issue you a replacement license with a new number and cancel the old one. 

The exact process will vary in other states but should follow a broadly similar pattern. Some will actively flag your old number as invalid, while others (including Colorado) rely on different security measures. 

Limits of Replacing Your License

Sadly, having your license replaced doesn’t let you start over with a clean slate: you may still have some repercussions to sort out. If a criminal gave your name to law enforcement in the commission of a crime, for example, your name is still “in the system” and can resurface unpredictably. 

Unlike the credit reporting system, there’s no centralized database that’s utilized by all police forces. It’s not that data isn’t shared between law enforcement agencies – it is – but that’s not universal, and you can’t simply have the fraudulent use of your name expunged across the board. All you can do is make sure that you report the identity theft to your local law enforcement agency and then provide copies of that report to any other police force you’re likely to encounter on a regular basis. 

Bear in mind, too, that licenses are used as ID in all kinds of situations, many of which don’t involve electronic verification. The identity thief could still use your old license to sign (and break) a lease, cash a bad check, or engage in many, many other activities that could cause you problems in the future. 

Limiting the Impact of Identity Theft

The good news is that you can take several proactive steps to make sure identity theft causes as little disruption as possible in your life. An excellent first step in any identity theft scenario is filing a report at the FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov website. The site will help you create a personalized recovery plan, essentially a checklist of all you should do in your specific case to protect yourself. 

Most of those steps revolve around the credit reporting agencies. You’ll need to inform the “Big Three” that you’ve been the victim of identity theft and place a fraud alert as a starting point. Then you should request copies of your credit report from all of them and scrutinize them closely for illicit activity. It may also be helpful to request a credit freeze to make it even harder for identity thieves to exploit your credit.  

Arguably the most proactive step you can take is signing up for Spokeo Protect, our identity protection service. We’ll monitor key pieces of your personal information – your driver’s license, your SSN, you choose – and if they show up for sale on the Dark Web, we’ll let you know. 

Being forewarned is being forearmed, and knowing that your information has hit the market (and will likely soon be actively exploited) gives you the heads-up you need to be extra vigilant.


WFMY News 2: Identity Theft: Stolen Driver’s License Becomes a Nightmare for Triad Woman

USA Gov: Renew Your Driver’s License and Other Motor Vehicle Services

Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles: Lost or Stolen Identification Card or Driver Licenses

Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles: Affidavit of Colorado Driver’s License or ID Theft

Identity Theft: Report Identity Theft and Get a Recovery Plan