DMV making millions of dollars from driver's information

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Last year, South Carolina sold your driver's license information for millions and it's perfectly legal.

Ada Washington has a lot to accomplish on her visit to the Leeds Avenue DMV. She's given  the state of South Carolina her picture, signature, address and social security number. It's a lot of personal information she expects to be protected.

"I know it's secure and if something was to happen they'd let the public know," Washington said."So I feel safe giving them my information."

Driver information from DMV offices all over the state go to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Columbia. And what comes in, also goes out.

Our driver records are sold by the state of South Carolina. Last year, it was to the tune of $14 million that goes back into the Department of Motor Vehicles. Beth Parks, the spokeswoman for the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, contends the sale actually helps us.

What is not sold is our photos, signatures or social security numbers, taken out before it goes to the nine companies which buy our records in bulk.

The nine companies include Experian Automotive which purchase title and registration information and Lexi Nexis which gets our information on accidents, violations, suspensions and newly licensed drivers. The companies resell our information, but a DMV lawyer says that contracts prevent them from selling the records to marketing companies.

What they buy is used to tell us about vehicle recalls and tell insurance companies about our accidents and tickets.

Parks says because bad drivers are not likely to report their accidents or tickets, there is no  way for any of us to "opt out." Washington says she's okay with the state selling parts of her information, but thinks they should make a point to tell us.
The state does not tell us they sell the information.

It is public record and there is a notice about the Freedom of Information Act on the DMV website. Also when you apply for a license, there is a notice that your privacy is protected.

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