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REAL ID Enforcement Needs to Include Tough Measures to Intercept Counterfeit Driver's Licenses

WASHINGTON, Jan 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There is an epidemic of counterfeit driver's licenses in this country.  In 2012 and 2013, hundreds of thousands of counterfeit driver's licenses were intercepted in the mail by federal law enforcement, or confiscated by security guards at 21 and over concerts, nightclubs, bars, and local taverns.  Most of these fake IDs were ordered online and manufactured in foreign countries, many from the infamous "Silk Road" which intermittently operates as a cybermall for mostly criminal activities.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it will begin enforcing the federal security standards for driver's licenses and ID cards this year, which will prohibit federal agencies, such as TSA, from accepting ID cards from non-compliant states. However, CSDL President Brian Zimmer said, "The REAL ID Act's 2014 enforcement endeavors need to go beyond focusing on how the federal government will determine which driver's licenses to accept. For example, there are states which not only refuse to comply with REAL ID minimum security standards set by DHS, but also fail to employ common sense defenses against counterfeiters. In particular, there are states like Arizona and Louisiana which are non-compliant and neither has upgraded the design or visible security features of their driver's licenses in more than a decade. As such, it should be no surprise that counterfeit Arizona and Louisiana driver's licenses are routinely produced by fake ID websites and sold to customers all over the country, and probably to customers in others countries planning trips to the U.S."

CSDL research shows that any state issuing driver's licenses with obsolete or easily copied security features is implicitly inviting foreign counterfeiters to start producing those documents. Furthermore, many of those counterfeits are virtually indistinguishable to most examiners and will pass scrutiny. "Our research on seized counterfeit driver's licenses and those sold over the internet shows a high correlation between states non-compliant with REAL ID rules and their documents' availability via counterfeiters," Zimmer said. "When DHS begins tactical enforcement, it needs to take concrete steps to ramp up both training and technology solutions to intercept counterfeit driver's licenses at airports and federal buildings."

REAL ID standards require that driver's license security features be routinely upgraded to be counterfeit resistant as well as require applicants to provide documentary proofs confirm true identity. DHS has certified 21 states as compliant with the REAL ID Act's rules. Mississippi and Vermont are the latest states to join Alabama, Hawaii, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Details and an updated map are available on CSDL's website at

About the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License:

The Coalition for a Secure Driver's License is a 501 (c) (3) non-partisan, not for profit, crime prevention education public charity, supported by donor contributions from across the United States.  

The CSDL slogan, "Working to protect the identity of every American", embodies our commitment to higher standards for both government and private entities that issue identity credentials, especially state agencies that issue driver's licenses and ID cards.  CSDL undertakes research projects addressing best practices for DMVs, compliance with federal laws and regulations, identity fraud prevention and related identity management topics. CSDL provides research results and educational programs to the public and to state and federal officials.  CSDL is a member of the Document Security Alliance and of the American National Standards Institute.

SOURCE Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License

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