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Driver's License to be the Next Debit Card 394

prostoalex writes "Your US driver's license has a magnetic stripe with unique ID in it, and your debit card carries a magnetic stripe with account information on it, so why not link the two together and allow people to use their driver's licenses as debit cards? That's precisely what a young company National Payment Card is doing in select locations, according to Business Week: 'Gas-station owners are pleased with the program too. Because NPC processes the payment as an e-check with the Automated Clearing House (ACH), a network most commonly used for direct deposits, participating retailers bypass credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard.'"
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Driver's License to be the Next Debit Card

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  • by Admodieus ( 918728 ) <john AT misczak DOT net> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:37PM (#19173851)
    ...your account is frozen. Brilliant!
  • Sounds Neat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by magictiger ( 952241 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:38PM (#19173863)
    It turns your license into a debit card with photo ID. Sounds neat, and considering most clerks that are supposed to ask to see a license for debit/credit usage never do, it may reduce fraudulent charges. The only downside is more clerks seeing your address, date of birth, etc.

    It's not for me, but I can see where some people would like this. One less card to carry around and potentially lose.

    • by nxtw ( 866177 )
      No one is supposed to check for a photo ID for Mastercard or Visa.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I process cards for customers every day that have 'ask for id' in big letters on them. It is the card owner's way of making it harder for a thief to use his card.
        • I process cards for customers every day that have 'ask for id' in big letters on them. It is the card owner's way of making it harder for a thief to use his card.

          My card says "check id", however even when sales clerks look at it, which is rare, they rarely ever ask. I rarely even had my id checked when I wrote checks. And the thing is is where I used to live, even those who knew you still checked your id.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fredklein ( 532096 )
          You should not accept those cards.

          MasterCard's Merchant agreement says:
          If the card is not signed, the card acceptor must:
          obtain an authorization from the issuer, and
          ask the cardholder to provide identification (but not record the cardholder
          identification information), and
          require the cardholder to sign the card.
          The card acceptor must not complete the transaction if the cardholder refuses
          to sign the card.

          Writing "ASK For I.D." or "See I.D." or "CID" is NOT a signature. A signature matc
      • Not the way I was taught. Always ask for a photo ID for a transaction that doesn't involve cash. (Check and credit...with the DL# being written on the check.)
      • Mastercard or Visa.

        I don't know about Mastercards but with VISA cards Visa doesn't require id checks for purchases under $25, or is it $50, but they do require it over this.

    • Re:Sounds Neat (Score:5, Informative)

      by smbarbour ( 893880 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:53PM (#19174049)
      It's better for the merchant not to ask for ID since Visa forbids merchants from making identification a condition of acceptance

      When should you ask a cardholder for an official government ID? Although Visa
      rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants
      cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot
      refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to
      provide ID. Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular
      card acceptance procedures. Laws in several states also make it illegal for
      merchants to write a cardholder's personal information, such as an address or
      phone number, on a sales receipt.

      -Pg 29, Rules for Visa Merchants--Card Acceptance and Chargeback Management Guidelines
      Even if the cardholder refuses to show ID, the card must still be accepted or else the merchant is in violation of their agreement and therefore subject to termination and blacklisting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hjf ( 703092 )
        Interesting. In my country (Argentina) Visa explicitly requires [] merchants to request an ID (specifically, the DNI - Documento Nacional de Identidad), and have the customer sign, and write their name and DNI number on the credit/debit card receipt.
        • And in America we find this creepy.

          If someone says "papers, please," I expect them to have a badge, a gun, and probable cause.

          Sadly we've gotten away from that in several areas, but on my more optimistic days I still think there's some small chance of fixing it without another Revolution. Guess we'll see.

          • And in America we find this creepy.

            If someone says "papers, please," I expect them to have a badge, a gun, and probable cause.

            I live in the US and it bothers me when I am not asked for my id when I use my credit card or write a check. While I don't like having to show id when I'm out somewhere but not buying something and using a credit card or check, I hate the thought someone can mess up my credit. Someone could steal my card, or could apply for credit using my name and screw my credit reports.

            • I agree with you that this is a problem, however, I don't think that making someone pull out a drivers license is really the solution.

              Drivers licenses aren't that hard to fake, particularly when you only need to get it past a store clerk who isn't really trained to inspect them and probably doesn't care that much anyway. (When's the last time you've ever had your signature questioned? There's a page around where a guy signed CC slips with increasingly ridiculous things, and never got stopped.) Add in a lot
      • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:30AM (#19175127) Homepage Journal
        Thanks for pointing this out. I'm so sick of being asked for ID when I use my credit card. BTW, here's a PDF [] of the merchant rules - page 29 also mentions the "See ID" nonsense.

        Remember: if you try to buy something with your Visa, but they won't let you because you won't show your ID, you can file a complaint against the merchant by calling (800) VISA-911. So far I've never had to make the call, just had to threaten it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

          Remember: if you try to buy something with your Visa, but they won't let you because you won't show your ID, you can file a complaint against the merchant by calling (800) VISA-911. So far I've never had to make the call, just had to threaten it.

          I don't sign my credit cards; they are marked "please ask for ID" on the signature line.

          Seriously, are you that lazy that you can't provide an ID when you use a credit card? You've already gone into your wallet to get the card, why not pull out your license while

    • Most gas pumps just let swipe and fill up a few ask for your zip code. Some can take your card and buy gas with anyone knowing about and tacking you normal gas buying Habits does not work as gas prices keep going up and up and people will go the station with the lowest price and not the same one all the time.
    • by cdrguru ( 88047 )
      They don't ask for id because the merchant agreement with the credit card company says specifically they are not supposed to ask for additional ID. Period. If they ask for ID they are breaking the agreement and can have their card acceptance cancelled. No more credit cards.
  • Well it wont work everywhere, here in Massachusetts the magnetic strip was replaced with a digital barcode a few years ago.
    • im curious, if you consider the barcode 'digital' then what would an analog one be?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) *
        im curious, if you consider the barcode 'digital' then what would an analog one be?

        Linearly encoded (greyscale or color) information instead of color/no-color encoded information. Slope encoding. Fuzzy encoding. Charge or field encoding (linear only, of course.) 1D binary digital is more convenient by far than analog (or systems like trinary and upwards, 2D and upwards) but analog isn't out of the question, either.

  • bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by datapharmer ( 1099455 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:39PM (#19173873) Homepage
    So now someone can steal my identity and my credit in one card?
    I would like to be the first to say this is a really bad idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xs650 ( 741277 )
      Look at the bright side, it would be one less card to report stolen :)
    • Re:bad idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:45PM (#19173949) Homepage Journal
      I would like to be the first to say this is a really bad idea.

      I'm sorry, you're going to have to take your place in line behind all the people who think RealID is a bad idea. This just isn't quite as bad, as yet. These ideas are all very much along the same lines. They are all about consolidation of your resources, identification, and risks, and that is a bad idea in general for your safety, your privacy and your liberties.

    • Re:bad idea (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:46PM (#19173957)
      What's the difference? For most people that'd mean stealing your wallet - they'll get both pieces of information anyway.

      I want a card with my driver's license, my grocery store card, my debit card, my work ID, my AAA card, and every other damn thing cluttering my account all on one card. And I want an electronic device, too, that has my cell phone, my garage door opener, my car remote, my mp3 player, and any other little bullshit electronic device on it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Why not put all things in your cell phone? If the cards aren't going to have pictures, and possession is proof of identity, just shove it in the cell phone. The only ones that I can see wanting to not have in the cell phone are ones that prove identity via some other means such as a picture or description. Even then, put it in the cell phone, lock out that part of the cell phone from editing except by the controlling party of that data (yeah, it'll be hacked but it'll be just as secure as photo IDs are,
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yeah, I can't really see how this is a good idea. Maybe a convenient idea, but it seems that with every convenience comes some sort of multiplied danger.

      What would be interesting to know is how much information about you is kept on that magnetic strip? I imagine the licensing office only has some sort of binary hash on there that can be read as a straight number and applied to a debit account, seeing how each number would be unique. So even if someone managed to swipe that data, they'd still just have a u
  • "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?"

    Just what we need. More interconnected national databases...
  • ...without this mess.

    1. Give out name and address to complete strangers who work cash registers
    2. Get identity stolen
    3. Profit (for identity thieves).

    Well, at least it fills in that elusive second step.
    • Man, this has been going on FOR A LONG TIME. Just think of all the people who absentmindedly hand their Credit Card or Debit card to wait staff at dining establishments. A disproportionate amount of cloned numbers source from these places.
  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:48PM (#19173973)

    As of today, driver's licenses and ID cards are state-specific. Layout, extra features (barcode, magnetic strip), anti-forgery techniques, etc are all decided on a state-by-state basis. If you move to a different state, you need to get a new license from that state within a certain amount of time (usually it's within a few weeks of establishing permanent residence). In order to roll out a nation-wide license-as-debit card program, either states will have to standardize on specific extra features like a magentic strip and what information is stored there, or licensing will have to be handled by the federal government.

    As a believer in states' rights, this looks like nothing more than an end-run around opposition to a national ID program. If they can get people hooked on using their license as a debit card, nobody will object when the fed steps in to take control of licensing to make it "more efficient".

  • I don't know anyone with a "US" driver's license. I have a Virginia driver's license. Hopefully it will stay that way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by samkass ( 174571 )
      I don't know anyone with a "US" driver's license. I have a Virginia driver's license. Hopefully it will stay that way.

      You haven't been paying attention [], have you? The role of a driver's license to simply prove that someone has the requisite expertise to operate a motor vehicle are long gone. Now the federal Department of Homeland Security mandates what states put in the cards, and you'll be required to show your national ID whenever you fly or enter a federal building.
      • by KD7JZ ( 161218 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:23PM (#19174265)
        As a proud citizen of Montana, I am pleased to report that our state told the federal government to "shove it". In the words of our governor, "Never, no, hell no".
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Yonder Way ( 603108 )
          If Montana weren't so fscking cold and remote I'd move there in a heartbeat. Gorgeous landscape, pristine outdoors, and a freedom loving people that is still unafraid to tell the federal government who is boss.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Neoprofin ( 871029 )
        Too bad when they required "machine readable" they didn't specify "magnetic". Wisconsin has the super complex bar-codes on the back.
  • It happened to me. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Soloact ( 805735 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:48PM (#19173981) Homepage Journal
    One early morning, back in the early days of debit cards, I inserted what I thought was my debit card into the ATM. It asked for, and accepted my PIN, gave me account options, then, after a short delay, said that there was no such account and returned my card to me. As I pulled the card out, I realized that I had inserted my Driver's License into the machine, instead of the debit card. I had always thought that the two should work together, as it appears that such interaction had been pre-built into the ATM software, even back then.
    • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:57PM (#19174079)
      The machine asks for some info ahead of time, while it tries to make a network connection and do the validation. This gives you the illusion of speed and interactivity. So after a while, when it finally figures out that it is a dud card, it pops the card back out and forgets whatever you selected.
      • Actually, it only tries the transaction once you've entered all the info (PIN, Transaction type, and amount), which is why it's not rejected for an invalid PIN until that point. Some ATMs with a dialup connection might be connecting during that time, but that's a seperate issue.
  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:50PM (#19174015)
    How about no.

    Shall we enumerate some of the problems?
    Suspended/surrendered license = no money
    Hacked debit card = hacked license
    numerous swipes = worn card + license. I'd rather not deal with the DMV any more than absolutely required.
    What is the benefit for me? Nada.
  • No fucking way... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kcbrown ( 7426 )

    I refuse to use debit cards at all (as opposed to an ATM card or a credit card), because they draw directly from your account and they don't require an independent piece of verification (like a PIN) to use.

    But this? This is even worse. At least a debit card can be cancelled in the event it's stolen, even though by then it may be too late. How are you going to cancel your driver's license when the DMV is only open Monday through Friday 8-5?

    It's even worse if it makes use of the RFID chip that's e

    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:24PM (#19174275) Journal
      I refuse to use debit cards at all (as opposed to an ATM card or a credit card), because they draw directly from your account and they don't require an independent piece of verification (like a PIN) to use.

      Now that depends on the debit card, doesn't it?

      There's nothing to prevent this company, or one like it, from requiring a PIN to transact business when you identify via driver's license.

      At least a debit card can be cancelled in the event it's stolen, even though by then it may be too late. How are you going to cancel your driver's license when the DMV is only open Monday through Friday 8-5?

      By calling the "card stolen" hotline of N.P.C. and telling them to disconnect your license from your bank account.

      Your driver's license is just being used as a key to a database. It's another way to go from a piece of plastic in your pocket to your name and account number - after that it's E-checks on your account with the E-check processing company.

      The only real issue I see with this (besides people reading personal data off the plastic) is if the state doesn't make some distinction in the data on the license between a lost/stolen one and the replacement. Without that, once you've had ONE license lost or stolen you can't turn such a service back on for your new driver's license without re-enabling it for the missing one. (Of course you can change the PIN - presuming a PIN is required to use the service.)
  • Right now, drivers licenses are primarily used to show that the person has earned the privilege to drive, and, unfortunately, secondarily, as a means of general identification. Most people are not terrible worried about losing their drivers license and carry it around even if they would not carry large amounts of cash, credit cards, or valuables. For instance, a person jogging down a trail will likely minimize the valuables they carry, but still carry a drivers license and an ipod. If an assault occurs
    • by fatduck ( 961824 ) *
      Yea because your average mugger is so interested in kidnapping people. They always have a getaway van ready to pull up side door open so they can tackle you inside and speed off to the nearest ATM.
      • by Detritus ( 11846 )
        I wouldn't put it past them. Locally, I've read about a number of incidents where people have been carjacked, driven to the nearest ATM, and forced to withdraw cash from their account.
  • by Dark Coder ( 66759 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:55PM (#19174067)
    The key to successful reduction of identity theft is the ability for revokation NOT only by grantor (state) or clearinghouse (credit bureaus), but most importantly, the grantee (the end-users).

    Without the end-user being able to revoke a stolen card, the whole system is worth squat, security-wise.

    And none of that clear-text personalized info on the magstrip, thank you very much, NO!
  • by JeffSh ( 71237 ) <> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:02PM (#19174111)
    Michigan does not use privately assigned numbers for our drivers license numbers. Our drivers license numbers are calculated using a method that's not secret or random or anything.

    We use a system that combines soundex codes with date of birth. You can find anyones michigan driver's license number if you know:

    First name, Middle Name, Last name, Month of Birth, year of birth.

    If you're from michigan, get out your driver's license and see for yourself. mi []

    There are only a few times where it might be a few numbers off. If you happen to share a first name middle name last name month of birth and year of birth, then the last 3 numbers will be off by 1. Besides that, this works really well.

    This is great for catching fake ID's. None of the fake ID's bother to calculate the right number. Most bouncers who police doors are familiar enough with the codes to flag fakes quite easily.
  • by geek ( 5680 ) go into serious, life crippling debt. We should be working on ways of getting out of debt, not ways to make consumerism even fucking worse than it is now. 50 years ago the average American was saving 10-30% of their income a year as savings. Today it's closer to 2%. To make matters worse banks are tossing out cards like a child molester does candy. Interest only loans are now normal. We're on the verge of a housing collapse because of all the shoddy loans to people over extended as it was.

    What possibl
  • EOM
  • by stoicfaux ( 466273 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:29PM (#19174323)

    Err... wouldn't that mean that you could pay a traffic fine immediately? Which translates to:

    "Do you really want your state government having easy access to your bank account?"

    "How fast will the state legislature pass a law requiring the immediate and direct payment of fines via the license/debit card?"

    "A hold has been placed on your account for the amount of the fine. The hold will be removed if you are found innocent. Your court date is in 30 days."

    • Err... wouldn't that mean that you could pay a traffic fine immediately?

      I think Ohio already did this -- credit card machines connected to cell phones in highway patrol cars. If you were from out of state, you could either pay it, or wait to go in front of a judge and post bail. Guess which option most people chose?


  • by eebra82 ( 907996 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:34PM (#19174371) Homepage
    Aside from the obvious increase in identity thefts risks, I realize that there is a person who thought this up, thinking that one 'all purpose card' would be cool.

    I don't think debit cards and driver's licenses should be combined simply because you usually don't carry that many of such cards anyway. What most of us hate is - this problem is applied to women in particular - all the shopping cards people collect. These are the cards that need to be combined into one configurable card, so that people can have only three useful cards. One for shopping discounts, one driver's license and one debit card. But combining them is kind of pointless.

    Also, other side effects include situations like not being able to give your husband/wife/daughter/son/xyz your debit card to use at the ATM machine, simply because it is too risky to lend someone a driver's license AND a debit card.
  • Progression (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:41PM (#19174439) Journal
    Lets make our drivers licences Debit Cards
    Hey lets make our drivers licences national ID Cards
    Hey lets make everyone in the World have ID cards that can be used as money which makes a world currency
    Hey we're too lazy to carry cards anymore, lets have a microchip imbedded in everyone.
  • Doubleplusungood. (Score:2, Informative)

    by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 )
    This is far beyond any 1984 insanity.
    Am I the only one that see's this as a way for Big Brother to have absolute, total power over your buying/spending abilities? The people that worried about bar codes and now RFID are probably shitty fuzzy spiders over this concept.

    I'll refuse to accept this bullshit concept, period.
    Cash is King.
  • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:59PM (#19174527) Journal
    (Some context: I founded a company that made credit card processing software for Linux (among others) more than ten years ago. My knowledge on the matter might be stale (as of about 2002), but as far as I know nothing about this has changed much.)

    This is very bad.

    When you use a credit card, you get fantastic levels of consumer protection. By law, you're liable for at most $50 of bad transactions on your credit card, and most of the major payment backbones (Visa, Mastercard, etc) have reduced that to $0 liability over the Internet. There's no burden to reporting the charges as bad - you report the charges and go on with your life and you get a bright shiny new card in the mail in a few days.

    On the ACH network, it's very different - it's like you're writing checks (the ACH network is used to settle checks). In other words, you're limited to the laws protecting you from bad checks, which puts the burden on you to prove that the charges did not come from you. Recovery of the money can be a nightmare, which can only be mitigated by the policies of your bank. The law offers you very little protection. Some banks are very good about this, others won't lift a finger to help you unless it's required by law.

    Debit cards are bad, but at least their widespread use have made banks familiar with the issues. This is much, much worse.
  • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:01AM (#19174537)
    So when an officer stops you for speeding, does handing them your license constitute offering a bribe??
  • Universities do it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AnimeDTA ( 963237 )
    The university that I attended issued student IDs that were usable as ATM cards with a bank that the school had set up to do that with. It worked fine but that was with just one bank that they had worked out some deal with. Its probably more difficult to work it out for multiple banks and allowing fair and equal access to all banks.
  • by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:29AM (#19174767) Homepage
    Debit cards suck. If there's a fraudulent or otherwise disputed transaction, the other party has your money. Getting it back is a major pain in the ass. My friends have had issues where it's taken them months to get something resolved and, in the mean time (it bears repeating), they have your money. Credit cards companies are generally much easier to deal with - the money is still in your pocket, so the burden is on the merchant to prove the transaction is valid. If (like me) you want to avoid credit card debt, use American Express charge cards (green, gold, platinum, or black). These basically work kind of like a net-30 account for your purchases. AmEx has always been great to me when there's a problem with a charge.
  • A Better Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sycomonkey ( 666153 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:55AM (#19175263) Homepage
    I would much rather have my cell phone be my:
    RFID Entry key (With an actual battery it can be truly secure)
    Debit/Credit Card (Same deal, different implementation)
    Driver's Liscence/ID
    Etc. Etc. Etc...

    I should have to type in a PIN or something to spend money. You can already deactivate phone immediately if they are lost or stolen, so that's not really an issue. I'm sure this is the way things are headed.
  • University ID (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saxophonist ( 937341 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:59AM (#19175285)

    The University of Minnesota already does this with their student ID cards []. Not quite the same, but I still don't like it, as it makes the ID itself less useful. Policies then restrict what can be done with the card, and you end up having special cards for other functions (like, say, checking out a music practice room key card) because no one is allowed to keep the student ID because it's an ATM card. So, it really doesn't even result in fewer cards.

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