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Madigan warns of temporary license scams

Published: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 3:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 3:44 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO — Attorney General Lisa Madigan advised Illinois residents to be on the lookout for scams related to the rollout of the Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License (TVDL) program by the Illinois Secretary of State. Non-U.S. citizens who are ineligible to obtain Social Security cards may apply for Illinois driver’s licenses under the new program.

Madigan indicated her office already had received reports of driving schools soliciting more than $1,000 from undocumented immigrants for so-called “universal licenses” that are supposedly recognized in most states. Madigan’s office also received report of a scam targeting Illinois residents for hundreds of dollars supposedly to expedite a TVDL application.

“The only legitimate place you can apply for a temporary driver’s license is with the Secretary of State’s office,” Madigan said. “Other people who claim they can help get you a license or get it faster are only trying to scam you out of your money.”

“My office has spent the last 10 months meeting with immigrant advocacy organizations, legislators and interested citizens throughout the state to raise awareness on the procedures governing the application for and the issuance of TVDLs,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “A primary component of our presentations has focused on alerting the immigrant community to be on the lookout for scam artists. I applaud Attorney General Madigan for joining me in this effort and for her vigilance in this matter.” 

The Attorney General said TVDL applications can only be processed at designated Secretary of State facilities after making an appointment with the Secretary of State. During the appointment, applicants will pay a $30 processing fee, complete a Verification of Residency Form and have to pass a vision, written and road exam. The Secretary of State then will verify the information provided by the applicant, and if approved, the TVDL is mailed to the applicant’s home approximately 15-20 days after the appointment.

To avoid becoming the victim of a scam, Madigan offered the following tips to consumers:

• Do not pay companies up-front fees to help you obtain a driver’s license. The Secretary of State’s office is the only designated issuer of TVDLs. 

• Do not pay a fee to schedule an appointment with the Secretary of State. A fee is not required to make an appointment. Also, there is no way to expedite the appointment or the application process.

• Avoid offers for a “universal license” that is valid for driving in other states – there is no such thing.

• Beware of anyone promising to “clear your record” and obtain a TVDL for you immediately. If you have previously had a driver’s license under a false Social Security number or had a DUI conviction in the past, you may still be eligible for a TVDL. However, you may need to comply with additional requirements before applying. Please visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com for more information.

• Do not go to a notario or notary public to obtain a driver’s license. Only the Secretary of State’s office can provide you with a valid license in Illinois.

Madigan encouraged Illinois residents to contact her office’s Consumer Fraud Hotline with questions or to report potential scams: Those numbers are 800-386-5438 (Chicago), 800-243-0618 (Springfield), 800-243-0607 (Carbondale) and 866-310-8398 (en Espanol).

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