Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Attorney general issues warning about immigrant driver's license scams

By Jamey Dunn

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is warning Illinois residents to avoid scams related to the state’s new driver’s licenses for undocumented residents.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office began setting up appointments today for residents who are in the country illegally and interested in obtaining Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses. Currently, the only way to apply is by appointment. Applicants must be able to prove they have lived in the state for a year and that they are ineligible for a Social Security number. They will also have to pass the standard vision and driving test. The licenses will look different from standard license and cannot be used for identification for things like buying a gun or boarding a plane. They will cost $30 and expire after three years. Licenses are void if drivers do not carry liability insurance as required by law.

Applicants who make appointments this month and meet the requirements will begin receiving their licenses in December. Madigan said her office has already started to receive complaints from consumers who say that driving schools are asking for $1,000 for a universal driver’s license that they say is valid in most states. She said her office is also getting reports of a scam that claims to expedite the application process for a fee. “The only legitimate place you can apply for a temporary driver’s license is with the secretary of state’s office,” Madigan said in a written statement. “Other people who claim they can help get you a license or get it faster are only trying to scam you out of your money.” She warned residents not to pay any upfront fees to make an appointment to apply for a license and not to purchase a so-called universal license that claims to be valid in multiple states because there is “no such thing.” A news release from Madigan’s office also warns: “Beware of anyone promising to ‘clear your record’ and obtain a TVDL for you immediately. If you have previously had a driver’s license under a false Social Security number or had a DUI conviction in the past, you may still be eligible. ... However, you may need to comply with additional requirements before applying.” The release also notes that a “notario or notary public” is not qualified to issue the license; it can only be obtained from a secretary of state facility.

Applicants can set up an appointment by calling (855) 236-1155 or going to this website. According to the secretary of state’s office, qualified applicants will receive their licenses in the mail 15 to 20 days after their appointments.

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