States Use Facial Recognition Software To Crack Down On License Fraud

Some fraudsters or drivers with serious violations try to beat the system by getting multiple driver’s licenses using different names. The implications of the deceit are far-ranging, says Stateline. People use driver's licenses and state IDs to do everything from cashing checks to opening bank accounts to boarding domestic flights. States increasingly are foiling the crooks and scam artists by employing a high-tech tool: facial recognition software. The software uses algorithms of facial characteristics to compare driver's license or ID photos with other DMV images on file. At least 39 states use the software, and many say they've gotten remarkable results. In New York, thousands of people with false identities have been arrested, and even in the less populous state of Nebraska, hundreds have. New Jersey and New York are working together on a project to identify certain types of violators, a step that other states may follow. “You have an opportunity, using this technology, to find people who are trying to skirt the system,” said Geoff Slagle, director of identity management for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). “It has really helped to identify fraudsters.”
Critics raise concerns about privacy invasion and potential abuse. While photo database access is limited to the department of motor vehicles in some states, others allow sharing with law enforcement. It was hard for states to crack down on identity thieves and fraudsters, given their lack of manpower. Officials say that has no longer been the case since they started using facial recognition. Among the cases uncovered in the last two years: A New York sanitation worker was charged with impersonating his dead twin brother and collecting more than $500,000 in disability benefits over 20 years. In Iowa, a fugitive who escaped from a North Carolina prison while serving time for armed robbery in the 1970s, was identified when he tried to apply for a driver's license using another name. “A driver's license is a strong, dependable form of ID,” Slagle said. “We want to make sure the people who are getting the licenses are who they claim to be.”

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