Stop Scammers, Stop Fraud

Stop Scammers, Stop Fraud

AAMVA’s Deterrence and Detection of Fraud Best Practices, Edition 2 can help jurisdictions combat criminal activity

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Departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) across North America have a huge responsibility on their shoulders: protecting the integrity of the motor vehicle and personal identity documents they issue to the public.

To help jurisdictions deter and detect fraud that happens at DMVs, AAMVA created a working group that developed the Best Practices for the Deterrence and Detection of Fraud, which was released in 2015. But a lot has changed since then, and a new working group was established in 2021 to create an updated best practice document that has been published in the spring of 2022.

The Need for an Update

While the original best practice document covered a wide range of fraud-

related topics, it did not offer depth into any of them. According to Paul Steier, director of Vehicle Programs at AAMVA, the updated best practice provides more details about the different types of fraud that can happen at DMVs, including:

  • Driver’s license and personal identity fraud
  • Vehicle fraud (e.g., documents, liens)
  • Motor carrier fraud (e.g., commercial driver’s licenses, inspections, operating authority)

“This updated best practice document is the heart and soul of everything you want to know about fraud: how it occurs, why it occurs, and what you can do as a DMV or law enforcement administration to deter and stop it,” Steier says.

In addition to including more in-depth information around the various types of fraud, the original best practice document also needed to be updated to reflect today’s reality—that more transactions are online. With electronic titling and mobile driver’s licenses becoming popular, new guidance around how to be prepared for current and future online fraud was developed and included in the updated guide.

“Because data is being transferred online, you don’t physically see the fraud that’s occurring as much as you used to physically with paper documents and plastic ID cards,” Steier explains. “You need to develop ways to figure out what’s going on, and that’s where data analytics and auditing your records become important.”

Another potential vulnerability for DMVs is internal fraud. “People wanting to bribe employees to create a record that appears legitimate is a huge threat that will continue to grow as we move more services online,” Steier says. “You need to think about the integrity of your systems and who has access to them.”

Ultimately, it is important for DMVs to be aware of this risk of internal fraud and create environments that endorse ethical behavior and encourage employees to do the right thing.

How to Use the Guide

Steier says AAMVA’s Fraud Detection & Remediation (FDR) training program remains the primary source of fraud training for AAMVA members; however, the Deterrence and Detection of Fraud Best Practices, Edition 2 is an extremely valuable document for subject-matter experts within the jurisdictions.

“Jurisdictions should have their subject-matter experts look at the specific recommendations around risks and vulnerabilities [in Chapter 6] and make sure they’re doing everything they can to overcome those risks,” Steier advises.

When fraud is identified, DMVs need to act quickly and make sure there are consequences for the perpetrators to help deter future fraud.

Looking to the Future

Ultimately, the benefits of combating fraud far outweigh the costs. DMVs should make sure they have the proper staffing, training, resources and technologies in place to successfully protect the integrity of their documents.

In addition to the release of the updated Deterrence and Detection of Fraud Best Practices, Edition 2 this spring, AAMVA is updating the DMV Investigative Unit Resource Guide for publication in late 2022 or early 2023, and will continue with annual updates to the FDR training program. Stay tuned!

To download the new Best Practices for the Deterrence and Detection of Fraud document, visit

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