When I checked in at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott, the hotel clerk scanned my license. What did she learn? Retail stores, restaurants, and banks all want your driver’s license and frequently they don’t just stop there. Instead, they swipe it in a magnetic reader or optical scanner.
Here’s how to figure out what they learned. This procedure works for the iPhone and I presume that a similar app is available for Android (search for PDF417).
First, download the free Barcode Scanners app from Manatee Works from iTunes. Other bar code apps may not read the PDF417 and Code 128 bar code formats. PDF417 is the 2D format present on many driver’s licenses and Code 128 is a linear barcode. This app will read the barcode on the back of your license. Note, some states may encrypt driver’s license data.
For Minnesota, the coded information on my license included name, birth date, driver’s license number, and number of duplicates. Other states include significantly more data. See DECODE YOUR BARCODE: STATS PAGE (TABLE) for details on your state driver’s license information (I was not successful with the decoding program available from this site). I find it particularly scary that Delaware, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee include social security numbers. Aren’t these states concerned about identity theft?
You may not be able to do anything about the information on your driver’s license, but at least you now know what is there.