Mailing It In
Iowa drivers to get licenses through postal service
April 6, 2010
Beginning April 19, Iowans won’t be able to get their driver’s licenses over the counter. Instead, they’ll have to wait two weeks for it to arrive by mail.
Iowa’s Department of Transportation said the primary reason for the change was to cut down on identity theft. But the potential for mail theft — which can in turn lead to identity theft — raises questions about the state’s new approach. Is it safe?
Kim Snook, the DOT’s director of the office of driver services, said the new driver’s licenses will be produced at a highly secure central facility — instead of at 100 offices statewide. This will allow the department to produce licenses and identification cards with more sophisticated security features, reducing forgery and tampering. The new process also will permit the DOT to complete an image verification process before a final card is delivered by comparing the applicant's digital photo with other photos in the state’s database, DOT officials said.
This is really going to help,” Snook told the Times-Republican of Marshalltown, Iowa. “This system helps reduce driver’s license fraud and identity theft.”
Twenty-two other states deliver driver’s licenses and identification cards in the same way, Snook said.
State officials said they don’t believe theft from mail boxes will become an issue because the driver’s licenses will arrive in unmarked envelopes. “Delivery by mail is consistent with other important documents Iowans receive, such as credit cards, car titles, birth certificates, and passports and will be undertaken with unmarked envelopes that do not suggest or reveal the contents,” reads an explanation on the Iowa Department of Transportation Web site.
Under the new system, a customer will be given a temporary document that will serve as a license until his or her license arrives in the mail.
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