How the New York DMV Nabs Identity Thieves


While there’s never any good context for being an identity thief, at least much of their dirty work consists of finding ways to separate victims from their money in a non-confrontational manner. But individuals who use someone else’s information to regain their suspended or revoked driver’s license are another story; in all likelihood, they’re a danger on the road.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles took new action against those applicants in January of this year, raising the number of identification points on their facial recognition software from 64 to 128. With more data to utilize, the DMV has caught roughly 100 identity thieves and opened 900 cases of suspected identity theft.

Since instituting facial recognition in 2010, the NY DMV has amassed a collection of 16 million photos. Thanks to the system upgrade, they’re now able to cross-reference the photo taken on site with their image library in increasingly sophisticated ways. An image can be converted to black and white to highlight scars; software measures twice as many facial patterns as before to increase the chances of a match. And evolving features like hairstyles and glasses don't fool the system.

According to the DMV, half of the 100 arrests this year were of individuals trying to regain a revoked or suspended license; one man was caught attempting to obtain a new license after his commercial license from New Jersey had been revoked due to four alcohol-related infractions. New York City led the number of captures with 40.

[h/t Ars Technica]