Recent KING 5 report about DOL facial recognition program contained a false statement

January 24, 2012

Individuals who fraudulently obtain Washington state driver licenses and ID cards present a serious risk to the safety and economic health of our residents and businesses. To fight this type of illegal activity, DOL has been working with the State Legislature for several years to obtain the authority to use a proven, non-invasive facial recognition system already in use for our Enhanced Driver License program to monitor regular driver license and ID card transactions for potential fraud.

In a story broadcast during the 11 p.m. newscast on January 23, 2012, KING 5 stated that DOL operated facial recognition software for regular driver license and ID card transactions without legal authority. This is a false statement. DOL was fully authorized to operate this system as a pilot program by our state’s 2009-2011 transportation budget. This budget, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on May 13, 2009, contained this provision:

“(7) The department may seek federal funds to implement a driver’s license and identicard biometric matching system pilot program to verify the identity of applicants for, and holders of, drivers’ licenses and identicards. If funds are received, the department shall report any benefits or problems identified during the course of the pilot program to the transportation committees of the legislature upon the completion of the program.”

The pilot program ended when the 2009-2011 transportation budget expired. We are now working with the Legislature to make the use of this technology a permanent part of our processes.

DOL appreciates KING 5’s efforts to keep the public informed about the use of our facial recognition system, but it is important for the public to understand that DOL has not used this system in any way that was not fully authorized by law.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and in our regular driver license and ID card processes during the pilot program from November 2009 through June 2011 has demonstrated a need to have this system in place to make sure DOL is doing everything possible to protect public safety and the personal identity information of our state’s residents.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and our pilot program has identified three primary reasons individuals fraudulently obtain multiple driver licenses or ID cards. These are:

• To continue driving after a driver license suspension or revocation

• To purchase or consume alcohol as a minor

• To engage in criminal activities including identity theft

In 2011, the use of facial recognition by our agency resulted in 571 driver license suspensions and the cancellation of 560 fraudulent records and the associated cards. We also are working our way through 3,800 more cases of fraud identified by the facial recognition system during the pilot program.

Our facial recognition system also has allowed us to identify cases where individuals were maintaining multiple identities to fraudulently collect benefits through state entitlement programs.


Beware of online look-alikes

October 28, 2011

A website claiming to be the ‘official provider of Washington driver license forms’ has gotten the attention of DOL after customers called in after running across the site. The website asks customers to pay $24.95. It’s not clear what that payment will get them, but it won’t renew a driver license.

“The only ‘official provider’ of Department of Licensing forms is the Department of Licensing, and they are free,” says DOL director Alan Haight. He says that the agency website is safe, secure and offers a lot of time-saving services.

Customers should always make sure they’re on DOL’s website, as it always starts with www.dol.wa.gov. Web browsers on the secure portions of the site, like driver license renewal, address change or other services will display that they have a secure connection by using a padlock icon or something similar, as well as displaying https:// as the prefix of the web address. You will also see fortress.wa.gov as the web address on secure state websites.

Some search engines can also return advertisements in the form of ‘sponsored links,’ which can lead users to sites that aren’t what they think they are, so make sure that you know who you are doing business with on the internet, before you give any personal information or click send.


Beware of DOL related phishing schemes

July 13, 2011
Clark County phishing website

Screenshot of bogus website

The Department of Licensing warns Washington residents to be vigilant about protecting themselves from potential phishing schemes involving driver licenses, ID cards and instruction permits. Phishing involves tricking individuals, usually using computers,  into volunteering personal information about themselves that can be used for fraud like identity theft.

Recently, a letter was sent to an individual in Clark County who applied for an instruction permit. It said he had been selected for additional verification and that in order to receive his permit he needed to go to a website and answer some security questions.

The website was similar in appearance to DOL’s website, but is not associated with the department.  He was asked to enter a verification code provided in the letter, and a counterfeit page asked for personal information like Social Security numbers and driver license numbers of his parents.  The letter also directed customers to contact customer service representatives at an email not associated with the department.

DOL is currently investigating this reported fraud and is taking steps to have the fraudulent website shut down.

At this point, an analysis of the fraudulent website appears to indicate this is an isolated incident limited to one victim. However, we urge customers to contact us right away if they received a letter that directed them to a website to verify personal information. You can email the department at fraud@dol.wa.gov or call us at 360-902-3915.

Clark County phishing letter

Bogus letter sent to Clark County phishing scheme victim


DOL is more than just driver licenses and car tabs

November 29, 2010

Every working day, DOL is serving Washington residents. The agency licenses and regulates drivers, vehicles and vessels and works with law enforcment to ensure our roadways and the traveling public is safe.

But there’s a whole other side of the agency that isn’t as obvious, but is critical to consumer protection in our state. DOL licenses and regulates 30 different professions, and issues business licenses through the Master License Service.

Each year, we:

  • Manage about 262,000 professional licenses.
  • Register nearly 4,000 complaints regarding professional licenses.
  • Issue over 3,000 cosmetology operator licenses for cosmetologists, barbers, manicurists, and estheticians.

  • New license design, facial recognition to play latest role in stemming ID theft

    April 27, 2010

    By Tony Sermonti
    A new look to driver licenses and facial recognition software will make it harder for identity thieves to do business in Washington.

    new_driver_license_look

    The new driver license look.

    DOL is expanding the use of facial recognition technology, a security measure already used in the Enhanced Driver License program, to safeguard regular driver licenses and ID cards. Changes to the driver license are coming as well — by shifting the picture to the left side and adding an identical but smaller, shaded photo on the right, the licenses will be harder to fake. The new design will be phased in as people renew or replace, starting in June.

    Essentially a math-based facial mapping system, the software creates unique facial “templates” based on each driver license or ID card photo to identify potential matches of the same face associated with different names. From there, Department of Licensing investigators take over the case, examining actual photographs and other information to determine if criminal activity, including identity theft, is occurring.

    Investigators say most matches will be easily resolved; the results of marriages or legal name changes, while some will be clear cases of criminal activity. They’ve already linked one individual by photograph to 36 different identities.

    The system can only be accessed by investigators with the Department of Licensing who have gone through extensive background checks.


    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 4,179 other followers