New Ma. License Aims To Thwart Identity Theft

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Massachusetts motorists soon will get the most technologically sophisticated driver’s license in North America, the Boston Globe reports. It is a newly designed card that uses every security feature currently available to prevent counterfeiting and tampering. Gov. Mitt Romney and top police and transportation officials said it may help thwart terrorists but will be particularly effective in countering the growing problem of identity theft. Last year, there were 3,600 reported cases of identity theft in Massachusetts, up 28 percent from the year before. Many of them involved switching photographs on a stolen driver’s license, or producing a counterfeit card that is used to steal in someone else’s name, for example by opening bank accounts or applying for loans. The more intricate the designs and features on a license, the more difficult — and expensive — it is to alter or copy.

Security features on the current license, including holograms, bar codes, and faint images burned into the lamination, were considered almost duplication-proof when the state began issuing it in 2000. But counterfeiters have found ways to foil some of the measures.

The centerpiece of the new card is a two-dimensional “Kinegram,” a partially metallized design that looks similar to widely used holograms but has defied counterfeiters’ attempts to reproduce. Massachusetts is the first state to use the Kinegram. Until now, Kinegrams have been used only on banknotes, passports, and national identification cards. Secretary of Public Safety Edward Flynn said investigations into identity-theft rings have found that thieves have spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on equipment and supplies to duplicate the current licenses. “They don’t spend $100,000 just to sell driver’s licenses to underage college students,” he said. “It was clear something bigger was afoot.”

Link: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/10/21/mass_to_issue_high_security_licenses/

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