State Auditor finds ADOT failed to fully address identity theft incidents

In 2019, thieves were able to access the MVD system, stealing personal information
In 2019, thieves were able to access the MVD system, stealing personal information
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:31 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The Arizona Auditor General issued a report criticizing the Arizona Department of Transportation’s response to a series of breaches of the state’s MVD system that allowed thieves to get copies of Arizona driver’s licenses.

The breach in the state’s system, known as ServiceArizona, was first exposed in a 2019 Arizona’s Family Investigation with On Your Side’s Gary Harper and Investigative Reporter Morgan Loew.

In 2019, the thieves purchased personal information from the dark web on more than 100 Arizona residents and used that information in the state’s ServiceArizona website to order duplicate driver’s licenses. Weak security in the ADOT ServiceArizona system allowed the thieves to have the new IDs sent to a new address. The ID thieves would then use the new licenses to impersonate people, draining bank accounts, getting credit cards and even buying new cars.

When Arizona’s Family Investigates brought the issue to ADOT in 2019, they said they knew there was a problem but gave no details. Arizona’s Family Investigates found out the agency had known about the issue for at least two years and even prosecuted some of the thieves. But they left ServiceArizona online and did not warn the public about it until the airing of the Arizona’s Family Investigation.

After Arizona’s Family exposed the problem with the system, ADOT’s director at the time, John Halikowski, said they were fixing the problem. “I want you to know that we have let the public down in this case and I am accountable for it and our full intention is to fix it,” Halikowski told Arizona’s Family Political Editor Dennis Welch. “We recognize what people have been through and we want to do our best to make sure this never happens again.”

In response to the Auditor General’s report, current ADOT Director Jennifer Toth said the department will " follow its policy for investigating and reporting security incidents by developing procedures that clearly designate the steps required to comply with timely assessment and notification requirements.”

ADOT said they will train staff regarding incident response and reporting requirements. The department also said it “regularly checks for patterns of fraud” and will review accounts from 2019-2022 for patterns that may indicate fraud and “complete any required follow-up based on the results.”

ADOT has since replaced its ServiceArizona system with the MVD Now system which the department says is safe and secure.

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