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PLATFORM : Truly Authentic ID Cards Would Rein In the Abuse of Social Services

February 26, 1995| TED HILTON | TED HILTON of San Diego is author of the proposed "California verified driver's license initiative."

TED HILTON of San Diego is author of the proposed "California verified driver's license initiative." He comments on the need for better documentation before issuance of identification cards:

Each year the Department of Social Services disburses more than $15 billion in benefits, and, according to state research, several billion dollars fund fraudulent claims. Officials report a major portion of the abuse is due to false identification.

If California issued a verified driver's license or verified identification card, it could help in three areas of concern: ending state services to illegal immigrants, eliminating welfare identification fraud and aiding law enforcement.

Unquestionably, there are new laws needed to restore credibility to the Department of Motor Vehicles' system of issuing identification. Most important, the DMV must verify all documents used to obtain identification. Failing to do so undermines the counterfeit-proof technology of the DMV card.

By using a fake document to obtain a real license, violent ex-felons can buy handguns, convicted drunk drivers can drive again and registered sex offenders can get new identities. The state could prevent some of this by matching fingerprints before issuing a duplicate license and auditing all records with the same name and date of birth.

Strengthening the laws would eliminate most false IDs that contribute to underage drinking, credit-card fraud, evasion of child-support payments and situations where suspects use them to avoid criminal warrants.

Controlling the United States' borders, ending welfare fraud and reducing the crime problem will require a combination of more guards, a national vital-statistics registry and verification of all documents before issuing official identification. But these problems will remain unresolved until this nation, in a responsible manner, without invading privacy, can put its identification house in order.

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