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Notary Bulletin

Federal, State Crackdowns Focus On Strengthening Identity Security

Due to rising incidents of fraud and imposture, the federal government and the state of Hawaii last week took aggressive steps to crack down on identity fraud and strengthen issuance of driver’s licenses and ID cards.

While the U.S. Department of Justice does not estimate the number of fake IDs in circulation, the agency stresses that cracking down on “document trafficking” is among its top priorities.

Last week, federal agents arrested more than 60 people in 17 states allegedly involved in fraudulent document conspiracies, DOJ officials said. In its largest case, the agency charged 50 people with running a multi-state identity trafficking ring that sold birth certificates and other personal identifying information from Puerto Rico for as much as $2,500 a set, which buyers used to falsely apply for government-issued IDs

Also last week federal authorities in Kansas City, Missouri, indicted 14 people for selling birth certificates and Social Security cards to undocumented immigrants to obtain Missouri driver’s licenses.

In Hawaii, people applying for or renewing driver’s licenses and learner’s permits soon will have to prove they are legal residents of the U.S. Under the new requirement, which goes into effect March 5, applicants will need to provide an original or certified birth certificate, a valid U.S. passport, a green card or similar document to prove their status.

IDs obtained from a government agency using falsified information can be extremely difficult to spot. As a security procedure, Notaries should ask signers questions about the information on their IDs, and should be alert to any potential discrepancies, such as obvious differences in age or physical description.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

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