If you’re opening an account, receiving money, or doing some transactions online, you might be asked to send a photo of your ID or driver’s license. It’s an important document that people or businesses may ask from you to verify your identity.
But is it safe to send a picture of your ID? The short answer is: it depends.
While some platforms that ask you for a photo of your ID, like PayPal or Payoneer, are generally safe, other means, like email, are quite risky.
You have all the right to feel doubtful—scams and identity theft are prevalent.
We get you. In this article, we’ll discuss the dangers of sending a photo of your identification card.
In the end, we share the top tip for sending a picture of your ID securely, so you can minimize the risk of compromising your personal information.
Let’s dive right in!
Why it’s not safe to send a picture of your ID
In general, it’s risky to send a picture of your ID over the internet, especially if you’re using email or dealing with third parties.
This is because you won’t know how many servers or networks your message passes through before it reaches the intended recipient.
Hackers can intercept your email along the way, and third parties may have access to emails sitting on your device.
Your ID can be compromised in data breaches and hacking, resulting in a wide range of consequences.
What can someone do with your ID? Here are some dangers:
1. You can be a victim of identity theft
If the photo of your ID is compromised, your information can be used for identity theft. Someone resembling you can impersonate you with your ID, perform fraudulent activities or evade crimes with it.
They can steal your identity to open credit lines under your name, claim your medical benefits, get your tax refund, scam your friends and family, and more.
2. Your information could be sold on the dark web
If the platform you used to send a photo of your ID or driver’s license has been breached, your information could end up on the dark web.
Your information, like name, date of birth, and Social Security number, can be traded or sold. Those who buy them can create false identities to commit crimes or even access your financial accounts.
3. Your ID can be used in driver’s license fraud
The information in your ID can be used to obtain a driver’s license by someone who’s not eligible to get one.
They can submit counterfeit documents using your information to meet the requirements for issuing a license.
4. Your information can be used to create fake IDs
Fraudsters can use your information to create fake IDs, like passports, biometric residence permits, and driving licenses.
If your ID has a barcode, it can also be used to prevent fake ID detection because it will return as valid when scanned.
Fake IDs can be used in human trafficking, public benefits fraud, and identity theft.
5. Fraudsters can create a synthetic identity
Thieves can use your ID details to create a synthetic identity.
Synthetic identity is created using a combination of real information and fake details. It has become the fastest-growing type of financial crime in the U.S. because it’s difficult to detect.
Without a real, identifiable victim, synthetic identity can go undetected for years.
6. Scammers can commit mail fraud
With your ID or driver’s license, scammers can try to change your mail address. When that happens, they’ll receive your mail, like credit card statements and checks.
As they gain access to more information, they can breach your accounts and steal your money and identity.
7. Hackers can reverse-engineer your passwords
The details on your ID or driver’s license are excellent clues for the passwords your use on your financial and social accounts.
Hackers can crack your password in as fast as two seconds if you use numbers only, like your birthdate or mobile number.
It can take an average hacker about eight hours to crack eight-digit passwords with letters, numbers, and symbols.
8. Scammers can access confidential information
When hackers are able to open your accounts, they can also access confidential information. And that’s not limited to your bank account, credit card number, or Social Security number.
If you have sensitive photos and videos, they can leak them to threaten you so that you’ll pay them ransom.
They may also gain access to your company information and ask for ransom.
9. Fraudsters can create fake accounts
Fraudsters can also use your ID to create fake bank accounts or social media accounts. They can use fake financial accounts for money laundering and scams.
They can also use fake social media accounts for scams and phishing, tricking people into clicking on links that can steal their data.
10. You’ll be responsible for unknown traffic violations
Thieves can use your driver’s license in place of theirs. So when they get traffic violation tickets, they’ll be charged under your name.
You might find yourself being held responsible for traffic violations you don’t know about. At the very least, you’ll pay fines. But worse, you could face criminal charges or get your license suspended.
How to send a copy of your ID securely?
There’s no 100% foolproof way to send personal information over the internet. But you can minimize the risks of exposing your sensitive data by taking a few steps.
Here’s the best tip: encrypt your message before it leaves your computer.
And it must remain encrypted until it reaches the recipient.
Encryption translates the file into code, so only the one with access to the decryption key can access it.
Before you send a copy of your ID or driver’s license via email, you can encrypt the individual file or encrypt email attachments.
Here’s how to encrypt your messages before you send them out.
Using a Word document or PDF
You can take a photo of your ID or driver’s license and put it in a Word document.
If you’re using Windows:
1. Select File > Info > Protect Document > Encrypt with Password.
2. Enter a strong password and confirm it.
If you’re using Mac:
1. Select Review > Protect > Protect Document.
2. Enter a strong password and confirm it.
You can also convert the Word document into a PDF file:
1. Select File > Save As > PDF > More options > Options > Encrypt the document with a password.
2. Enter your password and confirm it.
Remember that a strong password contains a mix of numbers and letters. It must be at least eight characters. The longer, the better.
Also, you must send the password to the recipient in a different email.
Encrypting your email attachments
If you’re using Gmail or Outlook, they have a built-in encryption feature. You only need to enable them first. You can check out Google’s how-to guide and Microsoft’s how-to-guide.
1. Select Compose.
2. Click the lock icon next to the recipient.
3. Select View details.
4. Select encryption.
1. Compose your email.
2. Select File > Properties > Security Settings > Encrypt message contents and attachments.
Is it safe to send a picture of your ID or driver’s license? Generally, it’s not, especially if you’re dealing with third parties that don’t have a secure platform.
It’s hard to know how many networks and servers your message will pass through before it reaches the intended recipient. Along the way, hackers might intercept the message and gain access to your information.
When that happens, they can do many things using your ID, which can ruin your finances and life.
They can commit identity theft, driver’s license fraud, and synthetic identity fraud. They can create fake accounts and scam you and your contacts. They can commit other crimes under your name.
If you must send a copy of your ID via email, the best option is encryption. You must encrypt your files or email attachments first before you send them.
If you’re asked to provide a password when encrypting an individual file, make sure you use a strong one. You must also not send the password in the same email.