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Man receives license with wrong picture

By Adam Schrager,
Published On: Jul 30 2013 05:40:48 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 31 2013 07:30:56 AM CDT

A Madison man is cutting up his driver's license after receiving a card with his information and someone else's photograph.

The Department of Motor Vehicles says it's never heard of another case among Wisconsin's five million drivers where this has happened.

Jason Bye sought to renew his license online after misplacing his current license. When he received a PDF from the DMV instructing him to check to see if everything was accurate, he saw the picture of another man on the document instead of his. He thought he had corrected the mistake after talking with DMV customer service only to have his new license sent to him with the same inaccurate photo attached.

"It looks like they aged me and made me another race," he said. "We can joke about it all we want but a bad picture is a bad picture and I'd prefer my own bad photo in there rather than somebody else's."

The DMV investigated the matter and concluded the mistake happened as a result of Bye's last visit to the DMV in 2007. At that time, he left the office with his license only to realize a mistake, so he went back in and a second license. In-between his visits, another man went through the process and somehow, his picture was attached to Bye's file.

That system has now been changed so licenses are mailed to drivers, giving the DMV an opportunity to use facial recognition and other safeguards to ensure the integrity of the system.

"We feel confident that this is an isolated incident," said Kristina Boardman, who is the director of the Bureau of Field Services in the DMV. "If someone got a card with another person's picture, it would have been brought to our attention immediately and this has never been brought to our attention before.

"This is concerning, but we have no reason to believe that this is beyond an isolated incident."

Bye said he's also worried that about the potential manipulation of the PDF file he and others who renew online are sent in the mail to use as a temporary document until their license arrives in the mail. He said anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of photo-altering programs like Photoshop could change them easily.

"It's the possibility of identity fraud that really kind of scares me," he said. "That's a scary thing. That's something you can never get off your record."

Boardman says the DMV has corrected a "disconnect" between the organization and its online vendor in terms of how photos are selected for individual's licenses. Nearly 20 percent of all Wisconsin drivers are now renewing their licenses online, so Boardman asserts the DMV is committed to keeping consumers safe.

"We're always trying to remain very sensitive to identity theft and doing what is necessary to protect consumers with the important data that we hold," she said. "(Bye's situation) was a very strange fluke."

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