DOL expands use of facial recognition system to fight fraud

June 7, 2012
DOL image

DOL image

The Department of Licensing (DOL) is starting to use a facial recognition matching system as part of our ongoing efforts to prevent individuals from obtaining multiple driver licenses or ID cards or attempting to obtain a license or ID in the name of another Washington resident. DOL is committed to doing everything we can to protect the identities of Washington residents.

DOL has used facial recognition as part of the Enhanced Driver License program since 2008 and in our regular driver license and ID card processes during the pilot program from November 2009 through June 2011.

How does facial recognition system work?
Using your regular driver license or ID card photo, the system uses sophisticated mathematics to create a digital template of facial features that aren’t easy to alter, such as eye sockets, cheekbones and sides of the mouth.

Before a new license is issued, the system compares the template it creates to with all of the templates already in our database to determine if someone is attempting to apply for a license using a name other than their own. When potential conflicts are detected, the system flags them for review by specially trained DOL staff.

DOL’s facial recognition system is designed to be an accurate, non-obtrusive fraud detection tool. When staff investigators confirm an individual may have more than one identity in our system, DOL offers the individual an opportunity to explain. A hearing is offered before any administrative action to suspend or cancel a license or ID card is taken.

Facial recognition templates are not shared
We do not share the use of the system with law enforcement or the other agencies without a court order and do not release facial recognition system results. However, when our efforts find probable fraud or identity theft we inform appropriate partner agencies who can investigate for identity-based crime or entitlement fraud.


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.


Enhanced driver licenses can use new lane at Peace Arch border crossing

April 15, 2011

If you’re traveling back to the U.S. from Canada at the Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, get ready to save even more time with an enhanced driver license or ID card.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has dedicated a “Ready Lane” at the Peace Arch port of entry for travelers entering the U.S. with a RFID-enabled card. These documents include: 

The new Ready Lane will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. In order to use this dedicated lane, all passengers over the age of 16, must present one of the approved RDIF-enabled travel cards.


Even after Olympics, strong demand continues for Enhanced Driver License

March 8, 2010

By Tony Sermonti

March marks a milestone in the Department of Licensing’s Enhanced Driver License/ID Card program. In a little over two years, more than 150,000 Washington residents can now say they have an enhanced license or ID card.

Even after the conclusion of the winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., more than 2,700 enhanced licenses were issued during the first week of March.

The Enhanced Driver License satisfies new federal requirements for re-entry into the U.S. at land and sea borders between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. This new requirement, part of the federal Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, took effect June 1, 2009.

Washington is one of four states that issue Enhanced Driver Licenses or ID cards. The fee is $15 to upgrade from a valid driver license.

For more info:
Get an EDL – http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/edlsteps.html
Federal Travel Requirements – http://www.getyouhome.gov/html/lang_eng/eng_edl.html


Enhanced licenses and IDs good as gold at border

February 16, 2010

Blaine border crossingBy Brad Benfield

The Olympics are here and staff at DOL are excited to see our successful Enhanced Driver License and ID Card program fulfill its promise as a faster, easier and less expensive alternative to a U.S. Passport for Washington residents visiting the Winter Games.

Demand for the EDL has been very strong over the past few months. As the Games approached, DOL was issuing more than 2,500 of the cards every week. Today, 140,000 Washington residents carry enhanced driver licenses or ID cards.

It’s very satisfying to be living through the moments Governor Gregoire envisioned several years ago when she met with British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. They discussed common concerns about promoting trade and tourism and doing everything they could to keep traffic flowing smoothly at our shared border during the Olympics this month and the upcoming Vancouver B.C. Paralympic Winter Games in March.

But the Enhanced Driver License and ID Card program isn’t over. After all of the Olympic and Paralympic events are done, the medals all have been awarded and the athletes all have gone home, enhanced driver licenses and ID cards will continue to serve Washington residents traveling by land and sea to Canada, Mexico and other popular travel destinations in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, our model has been adopted by many other states and Canadian provinces now issuing enhanced licenses and ID cards of their own.


Traveling to the Olympics?

January 4, 2010

By Brad Benfield

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games are just around the corner, and many Washington residents planning on driving to the Games are making our state’s Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID Cards their border crossing document of choice for traveling to the Games.

Demand for the enhanced licenses and IDs during the last week of 2009 jumped by 35 percent over the week before. If you are interested in getting an Enhanced Driver License or ID Card, make sure you review requirements for citizenship, identity, and residency before arriving at one of the 18 DOL driver licensing offices that issue them.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also has a comprehensive website to help you learn more about what to expect at the border and other border-crossing identification options.


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