Local News

Can the DMV Be Trusted With Your Name?

Posted December 11, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— When someone gets a driver's license or renews a vehicle registration, he expects the information he gives to be kept confidential, but that's not the case. The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles sells names, making millions of dollars in the process.

The state made about $48 million last year selling personal information. For $250, a company or individual can go to the DMV and purchase a list of about 3,000 names and addresses. An additional 1,000 names costs $20 more.

A new law that would attempt to curb that release of information went into effect in September, but it has many loopholes. DMV spokesperson Mitzi Powell says anyone who wanted the information, and who had the money, could get it before last September 13.

Now, those who want such information must fill out and sign forms saying they will not try to contact anyone they get information on. Powell says all that means is that, if a person is willing to sign the form sayinghe won't try to contact the people on it, he can still get the information he wants.

Powell says, once the paying customer has the list, the DMV has no control over what is done with it.

Another problem is that some companies may not even know they are breaking the law, especially if they obtained their lists before the new legislation went into effect.

In addition, no one seems to know what type of determination the attorney general would make if they were to find someone breaking the new law.

Photographer:Joe Frieda