Is your driver's license making you vulnerable to identity theft?

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Chances are you keep a close eye on your credit cards to try to prevent fraud, but what about your driver's license? Simply handing it over when you're at out can put you at risk for identity theft.

We know driver's license information lives in a number of databases, from the DMV, of course, to the TSA if you've boarded a plane. But who else have you handed your license over to, and do you know if it was scanned and where that info goes?

"I said, 'Did you scan my license?' And she said yes," shopper Robin Levy said. "And at that point I got very upset."

She handed her driver's license over to a sales associate while returning a $47 pair of jeans at Ann Taylor Loft.

"I was like, 'Do you really need it? How about I just give you my credit card?'" she said. "And she said, 'No, I need your license.' And she took it and she put it down."

Scanning driver's licenses is fast becoming retail policy now, for fraud protection or marketing. It's printed clearly on many store receipts, that photo ID is required for returns and that all your personal info will be kept in a database. But who's guarding that information?

"Make no mistake, at some point in you life, you will be the victim of ID theft because of technology like this," ID Theft 911 founder Adam Levin said.

He warns that everyone should be wary about who is carding and for what purpose. Especially since driver's license ID scanners are now in anyone's hands with access to an app.

"They're a necessary tool," New York Hospitality Industry counselor Rob Bookman said. "We really can't live without them."

Bookman says bar and clubs scanning IDs for underage drinking prevention usually don't store the information for more than a month.

"If there's any incident that involves a minor, you need to show that the ID passed a scanner," he said. "So you need to keep the data at least for some period of time."

Who else can gain access to that data is where customers should be concerned.

"You can hand something over to someone they'll scan it," Levin said. "Unbeknownst to you, someone else will skim it. And before you know it, you're in the middle of a scam."

Which is why Levy worried about the safety of her recently scanned license.

"It's safer for me to eat (the money for the returned item) than to know they have my info in this database," she said.

The big takeaway is that you can take a stand and not patronize stores or establishments that require ID scanning, or you can take steps to protect yourself.

That means signing up for transaction monitoring at your bank, where you'll get a text or emails alerting you of bank activity.

Also, check your credit reports often for possible fraud, and enroll in ID theft protection. These services assist you with prevention and remediation if someone steals your identity.

Best Buy made the following corporate response: "Best Buy captures valid ID information on returns in order to prevent fraudulent returns and deter criminals who attempt to turn stolen goods that can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars into cash. This is a standard industry practice and we use an outside party to capture the information. We do not have visibility into the data as our vendor flags only the returns that occur on a frequent basis."
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.