Where do you keep your driving licence and is it safe? These are questions every driver should be asking after it was revealed that nearly one million licences were lost or stolen last year.
As if the hassle of applying and paying for a replacement licence wasn’t aggravation enough, security experts warn that lost or stolen licences can’t be cancelled. The result is crooks can continue to use another person’s driving licence as identification.
Victims of identify fraud can find that bank accounts have been opened in their name. Hire cars might have been stolen using their credentials. And new-car finance contracts could be applied for using stolen ID. To help drivers safeguard their licence and identity, here is the advice from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
What’s the scale of the problem?
Last year there were 931,527 applications for replacement driving licences. This figure does not include licences updated for a change of address or name. Although there is no mechanism for recording the exact split in numbers, the DVLA told us: “We know anecdotally that the vast majority of these are lost, and a significant number are stolen. Only a small number are damaged and require replacement.”
Why do so many lose their driving licence?
According to the DVLA, on average 8 out of 10 British motorists carry their driving licence with them. Most will lose it when they are out and about.
However, there are regional variations. Younger drivers across Great Britain are more likely to carry their licence with them (87 per cent). The older a driver gets, the more likely they are to keep their licence at home. Among the over 55s, 18.5 per cent keep their licence at home compared with 7 per cent of 16 to 34-year olds.
The DVLA found that drivers in Scotland are almost twice as likely to keep their licence in their car compared to the rest of the nation.
What are the dangers of losing a licence?
If your card is lost or stolen, you will be issued with a replacement. However, the new card will have the same driver number as before. That means the old licence remains valid until it expires. If it falls into the wrong hands, that can be bad news.
Together with other stolen or forged documents, a lost or stolen driving licence can be used to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, take out mobile phone contracts or even buy a car on finance. You can find out more about identity theft on the Action Fraud website.
Where to keep your driving licence?
The DVLA says the safest place to keep a driving licence is at home.
Many drivers mistakenly believe they should have it with them when driving. In fact motorists have seven days to produce requested documents if stopped by the police.
Drivers Service Manager at the DVLA, Dudley Ashford, said: “We’d recommend keeping your licence safe and secure at all times – perhaps storing it in one safe place along with other important documents.”
What does the DVLA say about licence theft?
The DVLA says the driving licence is a secure document and has security features and safeguards in place to stop the picture of the driver being tampered with.
The organisation adds it knows whether a licence is the most recently issued. Having the driver number alone isn’t enough for fraudsters to access or change information on its database.
Keep your licence up to date
It is an offence not to update your driving licence after moving home. The same applies even to those who are only moving on a temporary basis, such as anyone enrolling at university. Failing to do so can result in a £1000 fine.