Guest Writer – Geoffrey Slagle


Most fraud is committed through deceitful acts motivated by monetary gain. Although fraudulent crimes involving government benefits or taxes can create enormous headaches for victims, costing taxpayers time and money to rectify, the stakes can be even higher for identity theft and fraud. Not only can this multi-billion dollar criminal industry, which affects one person every three seconds, be disastrous for financial reasons, it can also lead to the loss of human life.

Identities, usually verified through a valid drivers’ license, can admit access to facilities, bank accounts, mortgages, passports and other critical documents that prove individuals are who they say they are. When criminals steal identities, they not only gain unwarranted access to others’ personal lives, they also cover up their own history, perhaps a criminal past or a reckless driving record; something that could affect others’ safety.

On a daily basis, state agencies and Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) issue drivers’ licenses, vehicle registrations, titles, tags and other documents that keep Americans moving. Prior to 9/11, DMVs were considered responsible for collecting revenues and ensuring drivers could safely operate a vehicle – not identity management. Now, the mission goes beyond handling people and paperwork to guarding sensitive personal information, putting them in a unique position to safeguard our nation by preventing identity theft and fraud.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) is the trade association that represents North American motor vehicle and law enforcement agencies within the United States and Canada. The association develops training programs, standards, best practices and innovative technology applications that help motor vehicle agencies meet the ever-growing demand for tools and techniques to combat fraud. AAMVA’s goal is to establish the correct identity from the beginning of the application process through these efforts:

Provides organizations, which come into contact with driver’s licenses, identity credentials or secure documents, with explanations for the types of security features in circulation and how to identify them

Provides recommended practices for driver’s license and identification card design within the motor vehicle administration community

Contains a checklist for operational and technical solutions that can detect and deter fraud

Provides a protocol for state titling and law enforcement agencies to use existing data sources to identify and recover stolen vehicles and to apprehend and prosecute individuals who commit theft and fraud

Identifies solutions and standards that improve the citizen experience, while also defining and recommending conformities for electronic identity credentials for online transactions

Improves customer service and support, while enhancing public safety and security

AAMVA’s latest effort in deterring fraud is the formation of a workers group to study the use of a facial recognition program. The New York State DMV has used this technology since 2008 to stop identity theft and driver’s license fraud by preventing and deterring the issuance of multiple licenses to a single individual. The facial recognition technology is used to compare a new image from a driver’s license applicant to the existing file of facial images before issuing a license document. Between 2010 and 2012, key findings in a study of this program show that more than 6,100 cases of possible fraud were identified.

The New York DMV’s facial recognition program has provided the state with an important tool to identify and address traffic safety-related issues. However, the success of this program relies on the cooperation among the state’s traffic safety organizations, law enforcement agencies and judicial system. With AAMVA’s support, this program could eventually be implemented across North America, preventing the occurrence of identity theft and fraud, while ensuring the safety of citizens and preventing loss of life.

For more information about AAMVA and their efforts to prevent fraud, visit

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