New York gets ready to yank licenses linked to false Social Security numbers

| 10/4/2004

The state of New York is in the midst of a major investigation into people who hold driver’s licenses in the state. And when the probe is finished, as many as 300,000 residents could lose their licenses.

Christine Burling, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, said the state had sent letters to roughly 600,000 residents asking them to confirm the Social Security numbers they provided to the state when they applied for a license.

More than 51 percent of those people have responded, but about 300,000 still have not verified their Social Security numbers, Burling said. The department has started sending out “notices of suspension,” telling those people that if they do not verify their numbers soon, they will lose their ability to legally drive.

So far, 1,700 of those letters have gone out. The letters cover “people who have multiple licenses or in cases where the same Social Security number had been used three or more times,” Burling said.

The sweep was part of an effort to enforce New York state and federal laws requiring that people applying for a driver’s license provide truthful information in their application, Burling said.

“We just want to make sure people are who they say they are,” she said. “The law clearly states that someone has to identify themselves as deemed appropriate by the commissioner.”

According to Burling, during testimony earlier this year in Albany, Motor Vehicles Department Commissioner Raymond Martinez said as many as 100,000 people in the state may have had their Social Security number used by someone else without their knowledge or permission.

In one case, as many as 57 people were using the same number.

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor