The other day, my wife was at the town pool with the kids (for the first time ironically), and she had her Driver’s License stolen out of her beach bag, presumably because it was in a plastic bag with a few bucks. She had her guard down because she was sitting with other moms she knew and it’s not the type of community where you generally worry about petty theft, but in retrospect, she recalled one teenage girl sitting a few feet away who seemed to fit the mold (texting away while she was supposed to be watching a kid, acting like kind of a punk, etc). While all the moms got up to hit the pool out of site of their bags, the teenager was still there and when she returned, said teenager was gone – presumably with the cash and license.
As soon as my wife noticed it was missing, she initially called the pool and asked if it was returned, which unfortunately, it wasn’t. Occasionally, if someone doesn’t have any use for a license, they’ll keep the cash and toss everything else. However, we were concerned that if it were sold or fell into the wrong hands, it could be used for some sort of identity theft or fraud of some sort.
What To Do When Your Driver’s License is Stolen
- Be Careful Driving! First off, it’s illegal in many states to drive without a license. So, my wife didn’t drive until the day she was headed to the DMV to get a new one figuring that was a manageable risk. Apparently, you’re allowed 24 hours to produce one (which seems a little counter-intuitive and defeats the purpose of having one on you when the cop wants to see it), but it varies state by state.
- Online or In-Person? You can actually handle this online in some states like Florida and New York. Check out your state’s DMV to see which makes the most sense.
- New License Number? Depending on your state, sometimes they’ll actually generate a new license number for you. This is helpful in that it draws a distinct line in the sand if someone tries to use your license later for nefarious purposes.
- Fraud Alerts ASAP – There are two different types of fraud alerts that you should immediately pursue with credit agencies. First, there’s a short-term fraud alert. By contacting any one of the three major firms, they are obliged to share this information with the other agencies. We utilized Experian’s Fraud Reporting (not an affiliate link and the service is FREE) to put a 90 day fraud alert on her account. What this does is it makes it harder for anyone to obtain credit in her name in the near term. For instance, if someone wants to open up a new Sears credit card with her license and buy a bunch of big-screen TVs, they won’t be approved for instantaneous credit. My wife would receive a phone call and the cell we listed and have to authorize the credit approval. Basically, it slows things down to stop an identity thief from quickly wrecking your credit. It also increases the likelihood they’ll be caught. Next, there’s a long-term credit alert which will impose the same restrictions for 7 years. This provision requires a call or a notice in writing to the agency(ies).
- Check Those Credit Reports – When initiating the fraud alert, we immediately obtained a free credit report, which is kind of useless now since it was just stolen, but given the account we generated, we’re able to go back and check it and now, under law, each agency must furnish a free report each year anyway, so you could space it out and get a new one every 4 months.
And What of that Teenager?
Admittedly, it is presumptuous and unfair to accuse the teenager of theft with no evidence, so we didn’t try and get the police to investigate the matter further. Through enough effort, surely they could have dug up who it was or my wife could identify her later in the summer. However, just to gauge her reaction, my wife does plan on approaching her next time she sees her and objectively relay what happened and say something like, “I lost my license the other day when we met, I was wondering if you happened to see anyone in the area or notice anything abnormal” or something along those lines and see if she freaks out or is genuinely unaware of the situation. Perhaps she’s just getting a bad rap because of the way she looked, the way she was acting and her age. But, it was likely her or a mom, leaving for former the most likely explanation.
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