Local News

Thousands of N.C. Licenses Based on Bogus Social Security Numbers

Posted March 20, 2007

— The state Division of Motor Vehicles issued about 27,000 driver's licenses to people with invalid Social Security numbers, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

The Office of the State Auditor has been conducting "strategic reviews" to determine whether invalid Social Security numbers are being provided to state agencies. In previous reviews, several employees at UNC Hospitals, North Carolina Central University and North Carolina State University were found to have invalid Social Security numbers.

State Auditor Les Merritt called the findings in the state DMV audit the most troubling to date.

“A driver’s license is like a master key that can grant broad access by unlocking multiple doors,” Merritt said in a statement. “It is absolutely imperative to spend the resources to get a reliable database going forward and clean up all licenses that have been improperly issued.”

The audit found that out of the 8.1 million Social Security numbers provided to DMV, just under 27,000 were invalid. The number doesn't include the 1.7 million driver’s licenses in the DMV database that don't contain Social Security numbers.

“The hole we discovered was that DMV did not review previously issued licenses. That hole presents a potential threat to homeland security and exacerbates the problem of identity theft,” Merritt said.

The DMV didn't require Social Security numbers to issue a license before last year. Since August, the agency has used an online verification program that allows employees to check the authenticity of Social Security numbers with what officials call "ironclad accuracy."

The invalid numbers were discovered by cross-checking the DMV database with the Social Security Administration’s ranges of validly issued SSNs and its file of deceased individuals.

Almost 12,800 of the invalid numbers belonged to dead people. About 7,500 of the people who provided those numbers had revoked or expired driver's licenses.

About 7,200 of the people providing other invalid Social Security numbers also had revoked or expired licenses, according to the audit.

DMV Commissioner George Tatum said the problem involves fewer than 1 percent of all North Carolina drivers. Although some of the discrepancies might be criminal, others likely involve simple errors or women who failed to register their married names with the Social Security Administration, he said.


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  • raleightom23 Mar 21, 2007

    The "online verification program that allows employees to check the authenticity of Social Security numbers with what officials call "'ironclad accuracy'" is not ironclad since all it does is verify that the social security number exists in the social security database and not that that number actually matches the person in front of DMV agent.

  • nursevb8 Mar 21, 2007

    Yes, it's time to spend the money for a reliable database. Why in the world would they just be requiring a SS # only in the past year? How did they ever prove citizenship or crime or even validity identity. It only takes a minute to do a credit check, why can't they check SS #. So, now, how do they fix the problem? Are they actually going to go to the persons fake address to get their drivers license with the fake name? Only when it expires, and that person could care less.

  • Say it to my face Mar 21, 2007

    What a shocker...

  • Bob3425 Mar 21, 2007

    Builder3--The point to this article is that driver license are being issued to persons illegally weather be illegal alien or US citizen. What Guantanamo Bay has do with anything? I don't understand, the point your making is that the war on terror depleteing are workforce, my point is that we lose 50,000 on our highways every year and over 10,000 people our killed in this country every year..Which is going to deplete our work force quicker. I don't blame Bill Clinton for our current problem with illegal, I blame everyone (including myself for not raising hell sooner) sofar as the war in Iraq, I blame the worthless President Carter who allow Iranian to take hostage and did nothing, thereby making us look weak and giving them the impression that the US isn't will to go the distance.

  • buck121794 Mar 21, 2007

    Face facts, the more licenses sold-more money for the state.

  • tarheel1980 Mar 21, 2007

    Governor Easley's administration is full of corruption. Things like this keep happening. Why does the governor put up with this incompetence and corruption? This is from the same Secretary Tippett who mismanaged the I-40 widening and did nothing to correct the problem. Jim Black was just the tip of the corrupt iceberg in the capital. I expected more from Easley, as former prosecutor. He should show at least some interest in cleaning things up.

  • G-man Mar 21, 2007

    And this is only for the year since they started requiring the Social Security number. Think of the thousands issued before that went into effect.

  • North Carolina Native Mar 21, 2007

    lol builder

  • oldrebel Mar 21, 2007

    re: "Almost 12,800 of the invalid numbers belonged to dead people"...LOL...whew...LOL...
    Gnathostomata, LOL after a 12 hour night shift your post was my first this morning, and this smile will last till the bed bugz bite me for their morning meal. Thanks...LOL

  • Gnathostomata Mar 21, 2007

    "Almost 12,800 of the invalid numbers belonged to dead people"

    This explains a lot about the traffic problems around the triangle area.