BMV admits nearly 50 licenses were wrongly mailed


Kris Kirschner/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is admitting that dozens of new driver's licenses got lost in the mail.

When 13 Investigates talked to the BMV a month ago, officials said there were only two cases of licenses being sent to the wrong address. Tuesday, they admitted that number has grown to 48.

On staff at the IU School of Medicine at IUPUI, Dr. Mouhamad Alloosh is usually teaching or in a research lab. But lately, he's spent a lot of time at the BMV.

"I've visited them more than five times in the last 45 days," Dr. Alloosh said.

Each visit is to check the status of his new driver's license - which he first tried to renew in late August - and when he never received it, he tried again a month later and still hasn't gotten in the mail.

"They said it will be mailed to your address September 27," Dr. Alloosh said.

That's the same day 13 Investigates raised the issue of mismailing driver's licenses with the BMV after receiving a tip. The former BMV commissioner said at the time it was an isolated incident.

"We isolated the problem and realized it was just those two took care of it right away," said Andy Miller, former BMV commissioner.

On Monday, one woman came forward, saying she received a truck driver's license instead of her own more than a week later. Tuesday, new BMV commissioner Scott Waddell admitted the problem is bigger than they first thought.

"48 credentials were misfed, so the credentials got matched up with the wrong mailer," Waddell said.

He blames the problem on a technical glitch and operator error.

"They should have looked at it more deeply. They should have looked at the past 50 cards that they had been fed already and pull those back out," Waddell said. "Unfortunately, that didn't happen."

So about 50 driver's licenses went out to the wrong addresses. But in a process that's issued more than 900,000 new IDs, Waddell considers the new secure ID system a perfect one.

"This is an effective tool to prove you are who you say you are," he said.

"Two of my IDs are out there somewhere," Dr. Alloosh said.

For the dozens whose identities are lost in the mail, there is a different prognosis.

"I, frankly, am really shocked," Dr. Alloosh said.

The BMV does say the new secure ID system has already cut in half the number of attempted fraud cases. The commissioner says they are in the process of contacting those 48 people, plan to issue them new IDs, and offer them one year of a credit watch service.

The BMV is now contacting everyone to get mismailed licenses back. Waddell defends the bureau's record, which earned the BMV a big national award.

"With the central issuance process, we've issued over 900,000 credentials, with an error rate of .000056. Although it's not perfect, we're doing pretty well," Waddell said.

While Waddell says he considers this a serious issue, he doesn't believe it's critical, because the photo recognition element of the secure ID would prevent identity theft.

Police: Fraud threat is real

Despite the error, the BMV is downplaying the chance for identity theft.

The bureau says the mismailing is not a critical ID theft issue and that social security numbers are not involved.

"Our objective is to make sure it is secure and it is working," said Waddell.

But police say the fraud threat is real.

"There's also your non-financial identity," said Sgt. Doug Roller, a detective with Greenwood Police.

Sgt. Roller handles ID theft cases and says bad guys with your license may be able to use it in check fraud and more.

For example, say you're stopped by police for speeding and you have a warrant for your arrest. You can't flash your real ID, but you have that other person's license. You can't show that to the officer, but you can claim you forgot it at home and just give all the other person's vitals to the officer.

"We are likely to believe that's the person we are dealing with. That person doesn't show up for court, then a warrant is going to be issued. It can cause a lot of difficulties," Sgt. Roller said.