Parking Lot Secrets: Exchanging Personal Data Could Trigger Theft of Your Private Data

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A lot goes on in parking lots. Too much, in fact. One of the most irritating scams is the fake parking lot accident.

Here’s how it works. You return to your car to see a note on it claiming you hit another car when you parked. The other driver wants your insurance and driver’s license data so please call them. Put your car into park, and think the situation through completely before you cough up any personal information.

How the Threat Works

Often, the damages are trumped up or pre-existing. There’s no witness to the alleged “contact.” The would-be victim may just want your personal information to file a fake insurance claim. If you genuinely believe the damage claim is bogus, you can file a police report or, even better, call the police to the scene if the accuser and vehicle are still present.

A friend recently experienced a variation on the traditional parking lot shakedown that concerned her. Her teenage daughter found a note alleging damages as she left work one evening. The daughter insisted she hadn’t hit anything but the note said the situation had been reported to law enforcement. The family decided to contact the police directly.

Sadly, police then gave the other party all the girl’s data including her name, insurance company, and phone number. The family didn’t expect the girl’s information to be shared so freely and that spiked their concern level even higher. The woman then called and said she would not file an insurance claim if the teen paid for the damages out of pocket.

In most states, a police report is public record but vital identifying data is often redacted before release.

This situation had a happy outcome. The other day, my friend said, “Our insurance declined that woman’s claim. They said the damage on the cars didn’t line up.”

Not everyone is this lucky. More often than not, the insurance company will pay up because it’s cheaper than fighting the claim. The insurer pays $200-300, but the bogus claim victim gets hit with five years of premium increases that can total ten times that much.

Detecting Fakes

Insurance fraud isn’t the only risk if you share personally identifiable information in a parking lot. Driver’s license forgery is now a significant concern, too, so guard that number. You may not learn of the identity theft until your license renewal fails, or you fail a background check for employment or, worse still, are informed at a traffic stop that you have a criminal record!

When thieves get their hands on your name and that ID number, all they need is a paperwork expert to replicate the license or someone to merge your legitimate license number with a fake name.

It’s tough to imagine how bad this sort of criminal identity theft can get but it’s awful. Read our case study of the retired military officer who wound up homeless after an acquaintance stole his identity, created a fake driver’s license, and eventually cost him his security job.

If you discover an impostor posing as you on a driver’s document, call your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles Fraud Unit quickly. Many states have reciprocal data sharing agreements, so if your name is linked to a California license when you really live in Mississippi, it can get pretty stressful. Your license renewal could be delayed until you wade through the swamp and mop up the misidentification.

It’s also important to file a police report for criminal impersonation if you encounter the fraudulent use of your license. Keep a copy for future use if you experience more identity theft issues. Then send a copy to the Social Security Administration and inquire whether any new Social Security cards have been issued in your name. The driver’s license fraud could just be the start of something even worse.

Because your driver’s license is a sensitive document, ID Watchdog includes this identifying number on your dark web monitoring service. Have you updated the data you want us to monitor lately?

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