False Licenses in Massachusetts

comp_fraud_lic_id_massMassachusetts was the first state to issue driver’s licenses beginning the practice in 1907. Since then, a RMV Identification card or driver’s license has become the most commonly used ID in the United States, essential for driving, applying for employment, dealing with police, entering age-barred venues, traveling on planes, purchasing age-barred products such as alcohol, using checks and credit cards, etc.

In order to get a Massachusetts driver’s license or identification card, the Registry requires applicant’s to have a valid social security number. The Registry compares Social Security Numbers provided with official Social Security records in order to find mismatching information that might indicate the misuse of a (SSN) to falsely obtain a driver’s license or RMV ID card. When this happens, the Registry sends a letter to the applicant indicating “Comp. Fraud Lic/ID.” This means that the RMV has received a complaint, usually from the Mass. State Police, that person obtained or tried to obtain a false license or ID.

As part of the state’s anti-terrorism and “Real ID” efforts, special unit of the Massachusetts State Police uses facial recognition software and technology provided by L1 Identity Solutions to find license fraud by comparing facial images on license records. When the computer finds someone’s photograph on two different license records, the Mass. State Troopers in the unit are notified. After viewing the images and confirming that one person received or tried to get two different licenses or ID cards, a “Comp. Fraud Lic/ID” case is opened and both licenses are indefinitely revoked.

The Massachusetts Registry complies with the Real ID Act, which establishes minimum standards regarding driver’s licenses and Registry IDs. A license or identification document that does not meet certain standards will not be valid for boarding airplanes, opening bank accounts, entering government buildings and all other arenas where valid federal ID is required. These standards include, among other things, clear rules about what documents will be required to obtain ID; a requirement that the ID display full legal name, gender, date of birth, a digital photograph, an identification card number, an address, and a signature; machine-readable technology with minimum data elements defined by the Act’s regulations; and anti-fraud elements designed to prevent counterfeit.

To protect the security and integrity of licenses, and find fake licenses or IDs, motor vehicle departments use “batch checking.” Batch checking is the practice of verifying identification documents and seeking out fraudulently obtained licenses or identification cards. To accomplish this, different government agencies compare records to find individuals with non-matching information in various systems. For example, in 2004, several states, including New York began to compare their DMV records with Social Security records to identify individuals with mismatching information. Within the first few months, the practice identified over 300,000 people in the state with information on their DMV IDs that was somehow different from what the Social Security Administration had in its records associated with that SS number.  These people received letters warning them that their licenses would be suspended, and many ultimately lost their right to drive.

Providing false information to the Registry on a license or ID application is a felony which carries a potential sentence of up to 5 years in state prison and an automatic driver’s license revocation. If you have received a letter from the Mass. Registry indicating that you right to drive is going to be indefinitely suspended due to a Comp. Fraud Lic/ID, you should contact a lawyer such as Attorney Brian E. Simoneau.

You cannot get your license or right to drive reinstated, or get a hardship license, unless and until you personally appear for a hearing with the Registry’s Special Investigations Unit. There is no way to get around this hearing requirement. You are entitled to be represented by a lawyer and, given the potential penalties, it is strongly recommended.