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License to Squeal

Claim:   You can look up anyone's driver's license for free through the 'National Motor Vehicle Licence Organization' web site.

FALSE

Examples:  

[Collected via e-mail, 2002]

This is really scary..... Now you can see anyone's Drivers License on the Internet, including your own! I just searched for mine and there it was, picture and all.

I don't think this is a good idea at all !!! I think we should write our congressperson!
 

[Collected via e-mail, 2005]

This is not good but I thought I should pass it along. Check your drivers license. Now you can see anyone's Driver's License on the Internet, including your own! I just searched for mine and there it was ... picture and all!! Thanks Homeland Security! Where are our rights?

I definitely removed mine. I suggest you do the same... Go to the web site and check it out. Just enter your name, city and state to see if yours is on file. After your license comes on the screen, click the box marked "Please Remove". This will remove it from public viewing, but not from law enforcement.

http://www.license.shorturl.com
 

Origins:   The above-quoted messages are not real warnings from concerned and outraged citizens; they're invitations that solicit "victims" for yet another Internet prank. In this case the joke comes courtesy of a site similar to several other hoax web sites bearing names Monkey's uncle! such as "National Driver's License Records Bureau" or the "FBI Criminal Records Search," sites that purport to show users' information taken from state driver's license or law enforcement databases. The punchline is always the same: after the user is led on a merry chase, the site displays a photograph from his "official" government record, and it's a picture of a chimp, an orangutan, or some other type of monkey or ape. Yuk, yuk.

Perhaps more amusing than this old joke (I had a circus clown take my "photograph" with a prop camera when I was six years old, and that one turned out to be a picture of a monkey too!) is the amount of mail forwarded to us by alarmed readers who have received similar messages and are worried that they're genuine but are afraid to check for themselves. Simply visiting one of these sites and attempting to look up a "record" is sufficient to dispel the concern that they might be real (if for no other reason than that they don't ask for nearly enough information to uniquely identify a person), but many viewers are hesitant to try for fear that the information they enter will be collected by someone who might use it for illegitimate (or even illegal) purposes. To this dilemma we offer a handy solution: You can lie to a
computer!

If you're unsure whether a site that collects personal information (and displays even more personal information in response) is legitimate, just enter some fictitious but properly-formatted input and see what happens. If it's a joke, you'll soon find out; if the results are inconclusive, you are no worse off than you were before (and you haven't revealed anything useful in trying). If the site rejects your information (even though it's properly formatted), that may be an indication the site is indeed tied into a database that can access personal information and merits further investigation. The simplest answer is usually the correct one, however — someone's having one over on you!

(Driver's license and police record information is available over the Internet from various sources such as PublicData.com, but these sites are not accessible to everyone for free, nor do they offer information from every state.)

Last updated:   4 September 2010

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