Can Car Shopping Lead to Identity Theft?

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft When Shopping For a Car

Think about it -- what’s one of the first things a salesman asks for when you want to test drive a car? Your driver’s license! And what does he or she do with that driver’s license? The answer to that question may very well determine whether or not you become a victim of identity theft.

Why the Car Salesman Needs Your Driver’s License

The reason why the car salesman needs to see your driver’s license is really rather quite innocent. After all, if you don’t have a driver’s license you shouldn’t really be test driving a car and the salesman really can’t take your word on whether or not you really have a license to drive. That being said, the fact that the salesman needs to see your driver’s license can actually lead to identity theft if you’re not careful.

Oftentimes, when a car salesman asks to see your driver’s license, he or she will make a copy of it. There are many reasons for this, the first and foremost being safety, so this in itself is not a problem. The identity theft risk depends on what happens to that copy of your driver’s license when you’re done with the test drive.

Protect Yourself

If you go out and test drive a car and the car salesman has taken a copy of your driver’s license, make sure the copy of your driver’s license is destroyed in front of you or make sure that you take the copy with you when you leave the dealership and then shred it when you get home. If the dealership keeps the copy of your driver’s license, there’s no telling where it will end up and that could lead to identity theft.

If the car salesman doesn’t want to give you the copy of your driver’s license and doesn’t want to destroy it in front of you, ask to speak to the sales manager and if that doesn’t work, report them to the Federal Trade Commission. There is no reason for a dealership to keep a copy of your actual driver’s license.


I've never had a car salesman refuse to let me test drive a car because I won't give them my licence.

I don't give them the license. I show it to them, but will not allow it to leave my hand. They most certainly are NOT allowed to make a copy of it.

If that isn't good enough, I will insist that THEY drive the car instead.

Another thing, I do not give them the keys to my car so that they can hold me hostage while they try to get me to buy something before being able to leave.

Here is a link that explains just how car salesmen work and what to do so they can't take advantage of you.

Confessions of a car salesman

On the side of the dealership identity theft is a problem for them as well. Some insurance companies will not reimburse the dealerships if they do not have proof of identification of the people they are selling vehicles to.

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