HANOVER TOWNSHIP -- Should PennDOT be making money by selling our personal information? That's a question some drivers are asking after we discovered that PennDOT is making tens of millions of dollars every year by selling the personal information of drivers. And there's no way for drivers to stop it.
Drivers walking into the DMV in Hanover Township near Wilkes-Barre know they have to follow the rules of the road to keep their licenses.
But what your driver's manual doesn't tell you is the state is cashing in on your driver's license data.
Since 2010, PennDOT earned $157 million selling driver information, like your name, address and up to 10 years of traffic violations.
PennDOT uses the money to fix roads and the information is sold to insurance providers and companies that provide background checks. But there's no way for drivers to opt out of that information sharing.
Now, a new report is raising concern that your personal driver's license information could potentially end up in the wrong hands, like the hands of hackers or identity thieves.
Sterling Infosystems is one company that bought driver data from PennDOT. An audit obtained by Newswatch 16 reveals Sterling was not following the state's required procedures when handling driver's information.
According to the audit, Sterling was, "unable to provide a complete and accurate listing of their customers, "which, "increases the risk that the responsible party would not be identified if there was a security breach."
Experts do not think someone's identity could be stolen with just the information you hand to PennDOT. But they warn hackers could use your name, address, and driving history, to find information about you that could lead to identity theft.
"Any piece about you is just a piece of the puzzle," said Jeff Chopick, Custom Computers. "They could take that and then with other information, steal your identity."
PennDOT admits it relies on drivers to come forward and report any possible abuses of their personal information. But officials also point out there are consequences for any companies that buy the data if PennDOT discovers those companies are not following procedures.
"This particular company, Sterling, was a little sloppy in their procedures, and as a result, are now cut off from the records," said PennDOT official Rich Kirkpatrick.
"PennDOT points out while Sterling ignored some procedures that could lead to data, the audit did not indicate any personal information was compromised.