PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- After an Arizona’s Family investigation, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced Thursday a plan to address an identity theft scheme targeting ServiceArizona.com.
Arizona's Family first broke this story Tuesday night after reading police reports and speaking with victims and officials from ADOT.
Identity thieves exploited the option that allowed duplicate driver licenses to be ordered online and then mailed to an address different than the driver's address on file. This allowed the crooks to open fraudulent bank accounts, obtain credit cards, purchase cars and nearly drain one home equity line of credit, Arizona's Family learned. One victim lost $300,000.
Investigators say four large criminal organizations are responsible for most of the incidents. Law enforcement officials have made nine arrests. ADOT acknowledged that this has happened to 164 victims since July of 2018.
The real number could be much higher. According to cases reviewed by 3 On Your Side and CBS 5 Investigates, officials at MVD and ADOT have known about this problem for at least two years. The most recent cases of ID theft we found took place in August.
ADOT'S MULTI-PART PLAN
ADOT released details Thursday on their plan to enhance the security of the ServiceArizona website. The plan includes services for victims and enforcement measures to hold identity thieves accountable.
• Duplicate licenses will no longer be shipped to a different address than what's on file.
• People must now have their full driver license number for all transactions on ServiceArizona.com. You will be required to visit an MVD office or complete an enhanced security verification process with the MVD call center if you do not have your license number.
• ADOT is creating a new Online Fraud Task Force, which will draw expertise from cyber and law enforcement professionals. ADOT said the task force will make recommendations to continue aggressively investigating and holding those who engaged in fraudulent activity accountable.
• ADOT will issue new driver license numbers to victims and potential victims.
[ARE YOU A VICTM? Contact Arizona's Family]
ADOT is asking anyone who believes they may have been a victim of identity theft or fraudulent activity associated with ServiceArizona site to immediately report it to local police or by making a report to the ADOT fraud hotline at 602-277-5684 or firstname.lastname@example.org and inform ADOT of any filed police report.
ADOT director John Halikowski released a statement regarding the fraud on the ServiceArizona website:
The State takes this issue very seriously, and we will have zero tolerance for those who seek to steal the identity of Arizona citizens. These measures will not only provide an added layer of security, but will also allow us to better partner with law enforcement to go after bad actors. We will also be working to ensure the launch of our new site later this year, which will include additional layers of verification to prevent fraud.
The biggest change is coming in December, when the agency replaces ServiceArizona.com with a more secure portal, called AZMVDNow.az.gov. The portal is already up and running, but is not fully operational.
Still victims who reached out to us wonder why it has taken so long and why ServiceArizona is still online. Arizona's Family took that question straight to the top, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
Gov. Doug Ducey said on Wednesday that he was notified about the website issue a week ago.
“I was made aware of this at the last council meeting. This is unacceptable. Arizona citizens’ information should be secure. I'm getting updated on what the Department of Transportation is going to do to make this fix, and we're going to have a zero-tolerance policy on Arizonan's data-- we need to have it protected,” Ducey said.
IF YOU ARE BELIEVE YOU ARE A VICTIM, ADOT RECOMMENDS THESE ACTIONS:
1. Place a free credit report fraud alert.
2. Place a credit report security freeze. (To place a security freeze, write to each of the three main credit reporting agencies by mail. Arizona law allows a charge of up to $5 for each request.)
3. Request a credit report from the three main credit reporting agencies.
• Equifax: 4-800-525-6285, equifax.com/personal/, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
• Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742), experian.com, P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
• TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289, transunion.com/annual-credit-report, Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790