Edmunds Answers


Voted Best Answer

  • avatar MrShift@Edmunds 04/02/09 11:41 am PST

    Make your own photocopy of your license and write on it "Do Not Run Credit Check".

    Then ask for the photocopy back after the test drive.

    With this method, their insurance requirements are met, you get back the photocopy instead of it landing in a trash can somewhere, and no one has run a check on you without your permission (at least we hope not).

    That's about the best you can do...or as you did...just walk out.


  • MrShift@Edmunds 04/02/09 11:41 am PST

    Make your own photocopy of your license and write on it "Do Not Run Credit Check".

    Then ask for the photocopy back after the test drive.

    With this method, their insurance requirements are met, you get back the photocopy instead of it landing in a trash can somewhere, and no one has run a check on you without your permission (at least we hope not).

    That's about the best you can do...or as you did...just walk out.

  • isellhondas 04/02/09 11:44 am PST

    How can anyone pull a credit report from a driver's license?

    We need a SSN to do this.

  • jwilliams2 04/02/09 11:48 am PST

    It is illegal for a dealer to run a credit check without your signature and permission, so I wouldn't worry about that. If they did, you could always sue them and maybe get a free car.

    Most intelligent dealers (and their insurance companys) do insist on a drivers license copy. I know I wouldn't test drive anyone without one. You never know who you're dealing with. If you refuse, too bad for you, no test drive. Sorry.

  • texases 04/02/09 11:53 am PST

    "When I rent a vehicle, they never take a photocopy of my license"

    But you do let the rental company look at it, and they do type in your licence number, which is what the dealer wants, too. The dealer has to have some documentation of who you are. Do what Shifty says.

  • boomchek 04/02/09 3:01 pm PST

    It is normal procedure to take a copy of the driver's license. It's also a safety measure should the salesperson, and the car go missing with the test driver, the managers at the dealership would know who they went with.

    As isell said. we can't run your check without a SSN.

  • MrShift@Edmunds 04/02/09 5:21 pm PST

    The idea of handing them your own photocopy is to end the drama right then and there, so that it's not taken any further with request for SSN, etc.

    Don't some states have the SSN on the driver's license or am I wrong about that?

  • paramos 04/08/09 1:06 pm PST

    The reason a dealer takes a copy of your license is so they know first of all that you are of age to drive a car on their insurance policy. Secondly to verify you are who you say you are. And lastly so other people in the dealership know who the salesperson is on a test frive with in the event the sales person is carjacked. No joke salesmen have been killed on test drives from people stealing the car or getting into accidents because they were driving recklessley. The dealership will be happy to give you back the copy once everyone returns to dealership.

  • jasonasher 04/24/09 2:29 pm PST

    Well, the final answer is: Yes, you can test drive a car without allowing the dealer to photocopy your license...IF you can find a dealer who doesn't think they require this.

    When dealers started doing this before there were laws protecting against unwanted/unrequested credit checks, they were doing it for just that purpose so that when you return from your test drive they would be ready with your approval info to tell you that you can "take the car home today" to help "make up your mind for you," and quicker. Federal laws now protect against this type of credit check, however, most dealers are still in the habit of asking for it, and many use it to build a customer profile ahead of time, with which they will begin sending letters and discount offers and other such inticements to get you to return to their dealership with some money. Many dealers still claim that they need it for insurance reasons...THEY DO NOT! When you let your friend, mother, brother, etc. borrow your car, does your insurance company require you to take a copy of their license or risk not having a claim covered if they are involved in an accident in your car? ...Exactly, they don't, and no insurance company does--I happen to be an underwriter for Farm Bureau Insurance. More specifically, did your insurance company take a copy of YOUR license when you purchased your policy? ...Probably not. Even if you or the person you allow to drive your vehicle does not have a driver's license or a valid license, in most states (unless otherwise outlined in your policy), the insurance company must still pay, because of your permissive use clause (which may be where you would find such an exception stating that an unlicensed person might not be covered).

    THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS: THIS PRACTICE (WHILE ALL SALESPERSONS/DEALERS WILL ARGUE ALL DAY LONG THAT IT'S NOT) IS 95% FOR MARKETING PURPOSES THESE DAYS. MANY SALESPERSONS DO NOT KNOW THEIR COMPANY'S MARKETING PRACTICES ON THIS. The other 5% on this very well could be for safety reasons...in cities where crime is high, it probably isn't a bad idea to protect your sales staff and your unsold vehicle in the event you have lunatics running around kidnapping sales people & stealing the car, though I can't say I've ever heard of this happening (I'm sure it has though); this copy could be provided to the police, though I'm not sure any lunatic would be stupid enough to give a real driver's license before they go kidnapping someone.

    As others have mentioned though, it is the dealership's right to not let you drive their vehicle if you don't follow their rules, so it is best to take copies of your license with you. Yes, some states, Indiana included, allows for the SSN to be listed on the driver's license, though it's rather pointless to do this, unless you just can't remember your and don't carry your card, because many instances where you must have it require the actual SSN card be present as a separate form of ID. So, it is best to be sure you copy your license, then use a black marker to mark out your DLN and SSN (if present) and write "I do not authorize any form of credit check" (just in case), and make additional copies from the marked copy, then toss the marked copy; everyone knows that even when using a black permanent marker, any text from a laser printer can still be read through the marker. This will prevent unwanted credit checks, and will also prevent your info from being stolen in the even that the dealership does not use shredding practices. At this point it won't really matter if you get your copy back or not, because any damage they could do would already be done, though it wouldn't be a bad idea to take it back if you would like to use it again at the next dealer (saves one ink and paper).

    I hope this helps explain the rhyme, the reason, the madness, and the responsibility you have to yourself regarding this practice... :)

  • lokki 04/24/09 3:44 pm PST

    The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 prohibits states from displaying your SSN on drivers' licenses, state ID cards, or motor-vehicle registrations.

    The law went into effect December 17, 2005, and applies to all licenses, registrations, and identification cards issued after that date. If your license still uses your SSN as the ID number, you can request this be changed.

    You don’t need to wait until it expires to get one with a different number, though you may be charged a fee for the new issuance.

    Source: http://www.ssa.gov/legislation/legis_bu

  • abster 01/09/10 3:10 pm PST

    Let's think about this for a minute. If you a credit bureau needs a Social Security Number in order to run a credit report, then how can anyone run a credit report with just a Driver's License. In California, the driver's license only states a person's full name, address, eye color, hair color, height and weight, and birthdate. Granted 75% of this information is needed in order to run a credit report, but the most important thing, the major key, is the SSN. So let's clear that up first. A dealer CAN NOT RUN YOUR CREDIT REPORT WITH ONLY A DRIVER'S LICENSE.

    Now for the second issue. A dealer needs a copy of your driver's license for Insurance purposes. Insurance for dealers is different than that for consumers. Dealer Insurance requires a person to have a current, valid driver's license and have one on file in case an accident, theft, or kidnapping were to occur. There is no need to worry about who or what will happen to your ID copy because the dealers are more interested in keeping your information secure than you think. Specific laws scare dealers from keeping this information loosely hanging around desks and show room floors.

    So in conclusion, a dealer needs a copy of your license to test drive a car. Unless of course, they just don't ask for it.

  • missyd 06/24/10 12:58 am PST

    Here's one for you all. The dealer who took my license information gave it to a federal agent, I'm assuming to run a "check" on me for whatever reason. I'm assuming he does this with everyone he gets ID's from as there is nothing about me that would have been suspicious. Just your basic middle age woman car shopping. I found out because he slipped up and mentioned that we know the same federal agent he checked on me with. This seems like a pretty serious invasion of my privacy and it would seem like there should be some sort of regulations as to what these guys can do with the copy of your licenese.

    Anyoene have any thoughts on this?

  • sparkyinfla 04/19/11 9:19 am PST

    I agree with a lot of the advice given already (make a copy, write "no credit check allowed", etc.). Most all sales people don't know why, it's just what they are trained to do. And most instances nothing illegal is planned, however I would strongly reccommend that you ask for the photocopy back. If you don't buy the car I can tell you from experience that your photocopied license is rarely shreaded and just floats around from desk to desk, file to file. I've started in two separate car lots and inherited a number of photocopied licenses. I just kept them in a file, but a lot of people come and go through a car lot and your license could fall into the wrong hands and these days you can not be too careful. Please do yourself a favor ask for the photocopy back.

  • johnny50cobra 12/01/11 1:49 pm PST

    I own a car lot in Cleveland Ohio. I would like to raise a scenario for all of the people questioning photo copies of licenses. I let someone take a test drive in a 2005 Black BMW 740i with limo tinted windows and big chrome wheels. This vehicle is highly identifiable. I obviously look at the license and photocopy it. The customer comes back from the test drive, and seemed like they are in a big hurry to leave. They ask for their id photocopy back and then they leave. Two days later FBI shows up at the door and states that this vehicle with a dealer plate on in it was responsible for 2 robberies at two different banks at the time the car was being test driven. I don’t have copies of the license anymore and the name given to me was a phony. They then impound the vehicle as it is evidence. I don’t see the car for 6 months and they never catch the guy. We take photo copies because it protects us even if the car was returned in the same shape as it left. There are too many variables ie, running someone off the road, drive by shootings, robbery, theft, and a variety of many other things that could happen. After 6 months all photocopies are shredded and not shared with anyone. The don’t move from desk to desk, and we don’t waste our time sending you junk mail that ends up costing us money with little to no return. New car dealers may do this to keep big mailing lists, but the smaller preowned lots don’t even bother. As for slamming your credit, we are licensed through the state. If we do anything illegal, (which running your credit without your authorization is a federal crime) we would be shut down within 1 month. We have a lot to lose, and would not risk it for nonsense. I also read above that an underwriter for an insurance company said it’s not required. I would like to know if his company underwrites car dealers and shops. There are limited companies that will underwrite this type of business. None of the top ten insurance providers cover it. So i believe he is mistaken. My agent, (who only underwrites car lots) stated we need to keep every test drive photocopy for at least 6 month and then shred them. That is our policy and the policy of most reputable dealers.

  • nick4605 08/30/12 8:41 am PST

    I have not tried this yet, but I am going to this week. Photocopy the license yourself. Bring an envelope with you to the dealership. Show the photocopy to the dealer and that meets their requirements to know who you are.

    The seal it in an envelope yourself and mark the envelope on the outside flap (this way they can't steam it open). Then if you go missing, they can open the envelope. When you get back to the dealership you can retrieve the sealed envelope.

  • breaddrink 11/18/12 4:45 am PST

    @ nick4605

    Err, right, yes I'm sure you rushed out and did that.
    How unbelievably suspicious would that look?

    If that was my dealership, I would, probably fairly politely, tell a person who was attempting that to go and get stuffed.


  • rickhassold 03/20/13 5:44 am PST

    The dealers answer is correct. We need to know who had this car. And the logic of "What kind of crook would steal a car and kidnap a salesman after showing his license?! haha stupid car salespeople hahah." Genius. You're right. A crook would not do that. And the reason he wont, is BECAUSE we take the license. But imagine YOUR solution, where we DONT take IDs... NOW a crook is open to do what he wants, because he knows dealers dont take IDs. Most large dealerships have a woman or two working there. Do you recommend she gets in the car without leaving behind a copy with management of who she got in the car with?

    And my FAVORITE lol.. wait for it.. to stop us from making a copy of your license is: give us a copy and ask for it back... because our photocopy machines apparently no longer opperate when a photocopy is inserted into it??? If we have a love of making copies of your license and cuting out your picture and pasting it into our scrap book (ok, sad part is I knew a guy who did this to remember his customers), WE WILL STILL DO IT AND GIVE YOU BACK YOUR OLD COPY that we already made another copy of.

    Dear god, wake up people.

  • coloradodriv1 04/02/13 9:55 pm PST

    The simple answer is yes you can test drive without giving a copy of your license. For those of you who say the copy is to "verify" that you are old enough and legal to drive.
    -they don't make a copy at the liquor store or the bar to make sure I'm old enough to drink.
    -they don't make a copy at the airport to make sure for "security" reasons who is flying.
    -they don't make a copy when you buy a gun or ammunition.
    They WRITE the information on the documents for purchase of a firearm...no copies of your DL.

    It is legitimate to validate the ID visually to insure legal drivers. It's ok to write down my name and address from the license. But it's a pure invasion of privacy and opens up ID theft problems when you start copying an official document.

    From 1979 to 2002 I've purchased 3 cars in Iowa and 6 cars in Colorado. Only during my current shopping in 2013 has anyone asked to copy my license...and not every one of the 4 dealers I've gone to has asked. Two have, I've explained my issues with copying my license and one dealer relented the other did not...I walked away from the one who insisted they needed a copy. I agree they can ask...but I can say NO also, which is what I do.

  • knobody 04/26/13 3:42 pm PST

    Latest wrinkle: scanning your license into database!

    I just went on a test drive and stupidly let the salesman take my license thinking it was the standard copy routine. Turns out they SCANNED it into a "secure database".

    I told them in no uncertain terms that there is no such thing as a secure database and that I know people who could be in their systems in a heartbeat let alone the underpaid folks in the dealership with access to the same system.

    I told them to delete it immediately.

    IMHO, I much prefer to have someone hand me back the paper and risk that they made another copy rather than scanning it into a system that can now forward that image around the world!!

    Buyers really need to beware these days.

  • glennaz 07/08/13 3:42 pm PST

    As to whether dealers can access your credit info, see the following:


    It is a 2009 article, but I find no newer info to contradict it.

  • Stever@Edmunds 07/08/13 11:03 pm PST

    For concerns about giving personal information and having your credit pulled, this article may help:

    Car Dealership Credit Report Scams and the Patriot Act

    Another option is to freeze your credit reports. (Wikipedia). It likely costs money, both to freeze and unfreeze your reports, depending on your state.

    One example of how to do it:

    Security Freeze - Experian

  • franklin16 07/21/13 11:22 am PST

    Dealers do need to see your driver's license howerver there is no good reason or requirement to collect photocopies of prospective buyer's driver's licenses.

    Yes a credit check with Trans Union can be retrieved with a driver's license.

    Dealerships have no safeguards for your information.

    The dealer who tells you they must photcopy your license as required by their insurance company is lying.

    There is no law in any state that requires a dealer to make a copy of a prospective buyers driver's license.

    Dealers have a right to know that you possess a driver's license before you drive their cars, but they don't have a right to collect, retain and use your driver's license for other purposes.

    Don't risk your privacy and put yourself at greater risk to identity theft.

    If identity theives get your information to apply for credit somewhere else you'll never be able to trace the data breach to the idiot car dealer who compromised your personal information.

    Your driver's license is a crtical piece of information for identity thieves to begin to create their version of you.

    The next time an iidiot car dealer demands a copy of your driver's license ask them to show you their written privacy policy for data collection, use and retention.

    If the dealer has no policy it means they can do whatever they want with you personal information.

    So if you're okay with that, go ahead give them your driver's license.

  • franklin16 03/25/16 5:53 pm PST

    Dealers only need your Driver's License information to run a check with Experian. Equifax & Transunion (TU).

    So yes that's what they are doing with that photocopy.

    They don't need your permsision but here's what Steven Katz says.

    “An auto dealership checking a consumer’s credit through TransUnion is not required to have the individual’s social security number (SSN) in order to submit the request,” says Steven Katz, a TU spokesman. Does the dealer need your permission to do that? “The dealer does not need ‘permission’; rather, it needs only certify a permissible purpose (such as extension of credit),” says Katz.

    Source: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news


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