The DMV’s tough driver’s license requirements have curbed identity theft cases. But the same laws that provide safety can cause problems, even for law-abiding citizens. Just ask Morris Park resident Liam Moffatt who nursed a giant headache while fixing a driver’s license snafu.
The last time he renewed his license was in early 2001. Then the world changed following the 9/11 attacks.
States, including New York, toughened its driver’s license requirements partly because the hijackers had used genuine licenses to board the planes. That form of identity theft was something motor vehicle departments across the country tired to eliminate. The changes didn’t affect Moffatt until late 2011 when he went to renew his license.
What complicated the matter was Moffatt’s name. He was born Robert William Moffatt, a name written on his passport and green card. However, his Gaelic name is Liam Moffatt, which appeared on his old driver’s license issued in Ireland. When he surrendered that document for a New York State license he never bothered to legally change his name. That came to haunt him in December of 2011. He was denied a renewal.
“When I tried to renew my license in December of last year I couldn’t do it because the Social Security name didn’t match my license,” said Moffatt.
The 35-year Morris Park resident was in a jam. The document that helped him get a home, car insurance and credit cards was no longer available.
“Anything I own was in the name of ‘Liam’,” said Moffatt. “Therefore when I was asked to present proof of identity I really didn’t have it.”
Moffatt turned to Senator Jeff Klein, for help. Klein, convinced he was talking to the real Liam Moffatt, flexed some political muscle to resolve Moffatt’s issue.
“We spoke to the Department of Motor Vehicle and went as high as the commissioner’s office, and we explained that this is a bureaucratic screw-up,” said Senator Klein.
The key evidence supporting Moffatt’s case was a letter from the U.S. Embassy showing Liam Moffatt’s Social Security number matched that of Robert William Moffat.
Two weeks passed. A letter came in the mail. Moffatt received a brand new license he won’t have to renew until 2022. With that, Moffat could only be grateful to a man he can’t vote for.
“Unfortunately, I’m not a citizen, so I can’t give Senator Klein my vote, but one day I will,” said Moffat.