HOUSTON - Consumers and privacy advocates are sounding the alarm, saying the state is leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
This after nearly 28 million Texas drivers may have had their personal information breached when an insurance software company called Vertafore, with access to driver's license data, says it was hacked.
A Texas man who says he was a victim of driver's license identity theft, which may have happened before this breach, says he wants the state to stop selling driver's license information.
"They notified me that someone had racked up an $11,000 dollar bill," said Ryan Phillips about a cell phone bill he received back in April. "And they told me someone produced a driver's license to them with my number on it with a different picture ID."
Now he says he has the difficult task of getting statements from the cell phone company and a police report that the fraud occurred in order to get the Texas Department of Public Safety to issue him a new driver's license number.
"Because of the all the liability that ensues, it's just difficult to get that written down that somebody used my driver's license in that way to produce to DPS to actually change the number," said Phillips.
Last week, insurance software company Vertafore announced 28 million Texas drivers had their personal information hacked sometime between March and August of this year.
A Vertafore statement says an independent review hasn't found evidence of the information being misused. But identity theft experts say stolen data is often used years later.
We asked the Identity Theft Resource Center if Texas drivers should ask DPS for new driver's license numbers.
"It really depends. When you have a massive data breach like this, to ask the system to issue numbers to millions and millions of people may not be the best decision. So it's really an individual system that has to be made," said Eva Velasquez, President, and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Phillips says he doesn't like that state law has allowed DPS to make millions of dollars selling drivers' personal information to data mining, insurance, and other companies and government agencies, and that drivers can't opt-out.
"There's no recourse for the consumer, the driver in Texas, to be able to tell DPS you can't sell my personal information," said Phillips.
"One of the best ways we can move forward is to encourage the entities, whether it's government or for-profit, to really take the obligation of being good stewards of this data seriously, to put those mechanisms in place," said Velasquez.
The Texas Department of Public Safety declined to be interviewed but tells us victims of any identity theft should file a police report and contact DPS for the next steps.
The DPS website says to obtain new driver's license numbers, drivers will be asked to show proof of your identity, criminal reports, copies of returned checks or credit card statements to show proof of fraud. Victims may also be asked to complete a Forgery Affidavit and have it notarized.
The Identity Theft Resource Center says anyone unable to obtain a police report, can also file a report with the FTC here.
Identity theft victims should also freeze their credit, watch credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity, and change passwords on their accounts. Victims can contact the ITRC for assistance.
Drivers can contact Vertafore to see if their information was hacked by calling 888-479-3560.
Vertafore says it is offering those impacted one year of free credit monitoring through Kroll, which will help resolve any damage to your credit report. You can sign up for monitoring here.
Victims can also report it to the Texas Attorney General's office on their website.