Security Experts: Beware of Companies Scanning Your Driver’s License

At schools, hospitals and even cruise ships, you’ll likely turn over your driver’s license to security without a second thought. But security experts warn that having your ID scanned through those magnetic strip readers could be putting you at risk for identity theft.

“We don’t know if that information will be misused against us,” said Silka Gonzalez, president of Enterprise Risk Management. 

Businesses use the scanning technology to try to verify who is really going into their buildings. With just a swipe of your ID, computers can pull your personal information from it giving it to the companies and facilities you visit, including your date of birth, address, height and weight.

Anthony Zagami, the CEO of Sisco, developed the technology knowing that businesses needed to know who is accessing their building to keep people safe. He showed NBC6 how computers pull the data instantly from the driver’s license.

“It brought up all of my information,” Zagami said.

He says it’s up to companies to decide what information they want to extract.

“We can collect as much or as less as you want,” Zagami said.

But security experts say the way institutions are collecting and storing that information is what could put consumers at risk.

“What are they doing with this information? Whose using that information? Who will have access to that information? Is that information being cloned? Is it secure?” Gonzalez questioned.

Cyber security attorney Luis Salazar said the information that’s extracted is exactly what identity thieves need.

“All that information is a platform. It’s a first stepping stone to commit identity theft,” Salazar said. “Maintaining that information for businesses, unless it’s absolutely an essential part of their business, is a risk.”

Salazar said handing over the information is also risky for consumers who don’t know they are protected by Florida law.

Florida law says private entities may not swipe an individual’s driver license except to:

· Verify its authenticity 

· Verify age

· Prevent fraud

· Comply with a legal requirement

“Because of convenience and people not aware of the statute, they tend to just provide the information to gain access to a hospital, or a school or any other private building,” said Salazar.

But Salazar says security does have the legal right to ask for your ID and take a picture of it.

“If you don’t provide them with adequate identification you can be barred access,” Salazar said.

But what about public facilities? NBC 6 got a tip that Memorial Regional had forced a visitor to swipe her license in order to enter so we asked one of our producers to see if she could get in just by showing her ID and not having it swiped.

“The security officer complied then he took a photo of the ID,” said an NBC6 Producer.

While Memorial complied with her request, a second producer visited this Broward Health facility and had a different experience when she gave her license to a security guard.

“Before I handed it to her I said, ‘Could you please not scan it?’ She said okay. She took it and put it through the machine. And then she said what difference does it make,” said a Telemundo51 producer.

In a statement Broward Health said, “We take the safety and privacy of all patients and guests seriously. We follow industry best practices for visitor registration and take aggressive measures to ensure privacy.”

Memorial said, “If you are in the hospital for care and did not bring an ID, you will still receive the care you need.” and that visitors can be denied access, “If it poses a physical safety and security risk.”  As for how long this information is kept, Memorial says it “does not store this information for an unreasonable amount of time.”    

The hospital visitors we spoke to say they have mixed feelings about handing over their information to strangers.

“I am concerned. I obviously don’t want my information to get stolen. I don’t want that but I also want to be safe inside the building as well,” Vadis Bautista said.

The security experts we spoke to recommend you ask security to write down your information or take a photo of your ID instead of swiping it. 

We also asked Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines about their use of this technology but they refused to talk about their "security procedures."

Here at NBC6, we recently started using similar technology.

We reached out to our facilities team and were told that they don’t disclose our security protocols to protect the safety of our employees.