The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles claims its “top priority” is protecting drivers and their information, though that does not seem to be the case as of recent. According to an article on CBS 11 News Dallas, the department is guided by federal law which can inform them on who can buy your private information and how they use it.
As most well know, the Texas DMV is rather busy at all hours of the day, with citizens filing in and out to register their vehicles, obtain driver’s licenses, and other necessary transfers of personal information. Now, it has come to light that the state does not simply make money of the necessary fees, but from your personal information as well. In 2012 alone, they made $2.1 million.
“The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is the custodian of over 22 million currently registered vehicles in the state of Texas,” said Randy Elliston, Director of the Texas DMV. “All of those records that are in our database, however, are protected under the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).”
How it Works
The Tax Collector’s Office in your county aides the state with the collection of your information and money, and this information is placed into the Texas DMV database. Once you are placed in the database, you information can be broken down into a number of factors, such as where you live or what your drive. Though this seems rather intrusive, as Elliston has said, the DPPA protects who can buy your information, and what they can do with it. So who’s purchasing this information?
According to Mireya Villarreal, an investigative reporter for CBS 11, nearly 2,500 businesses or agencies purchased the data in some fashion in 2012. These are such groups as: towing companies, collection agencies, insurance companies, schools, banks, governments, private investigators, and schools. The total amount that they pay is entirely based on what kind or how much information that they are looking to obtain.
“Some people might feel like the state is making money off of their private information. Is that the case here?” Mireya asked. “Well, the state does charge for the information that we release,” Elliston answered. “But they are not permitted to use it for advertising or things of that nature to contact people.”
Since 2000, only nine companies have been busted and barred from using this DMV data, and since 2010, only three complaints have been filed by Texas residents.
The Texas DMC steadfastly defends that all funds incurred from selling your personal information go towards state highway and maintenance funds. Though this may alert many Texans, you do have to pay for a superior highway system someway.
Luckily, though, if you feel that your personal information has been compromised, you can email your complaint to Diane.EmrickDodson@txdmv.gov. Also, you have the ability to mail in your inquiry to Vehicles and Registration Division, Jackson Avenue, Austin, TX 78731.