New computer technology has helped Colorado detect hundreds of people trying to obtain phony driver’s licenses in the past year, reports the Denver Post. Colorado is among a handful of states utilizing facial-recognition technology, or biometrics, to combat identity theft, with the system catching as many as five people a week trying to get a license in someone else’s name. Last year, Colorado stopped issuing licenses on the spot, allowing clerks and the computer system to screen for people who are trying to steal someone else’s identity. Now, when a person comes in for a driver’s license, the clerk views the driver’s previous photo and takes a fingerprint to make sure it is the same person. If the license is legitimate, the driver gets it in about a week.
For people applying for their first Colorado license, the computer-operated facial recognition is triggered. A picture is scanned and compared against the state’s database of 12 million pictures to make sure that person does not already have a license in another name. The computer measures various facial features, putting together a mathematical formula that is matched against other people in the database. Of the nearly 735,000 applications processed between January and September 2004, motor vehicle officials found 528 fraudulent applications. State and federal officials are working to make identification documents more secure. “There’s no question that much of this is a response to 9/11, when there was a concern about people being able to obtain multiple different kinds of fraudulent IDs,” said Jack Riley, a criminal justice expert at the Rand Corp. “Anything with a biometric makes it much harder to obtain an ID.”