“Departments of Motor Vehicles in states around the country are taking drivers' personal information and selling it to thousands of businesses, including private investigators who spy on people for a profit, Motherboard has learned. DMVs sell the data for an array of approved purposes, such as to insurance or tow companies, but some of them have sold to more nefarious businesses as well. Multiple states have made tens of millions of dollars a year selling data.”
While legal under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, many drivers are unaware that the state-level government agencies regularly sell their information to private parties.
Back in 2013, CBS 11 in Dallas reported that “the State of Texas made millions of dollars selling your private information last year. We’re talking about your name, address, and even what kind of car you drive.”
Here’s how it works: The Tax Collector’s office in your county helps the state out by collecting your information and your money. Once you’re in the Texas DMV database your information can be sorted by where you live or what you drive; and it’s that information that’s up for grabs.
Who is buying your info? According to the report “there are towing companies, collection agencies, insurance companies, hospitals, banks, schools, city governments, and even private investigators. How much they pay depends on the kind of information or quantity they’re looking for.”
CBS 11 even complied a list of all the companies that purchased personal information of Texas drivers through the DMV in 2012.
As Motherboard notes, “selling data has become a huge revenue maker in some states. South Carolina made $42 million selling driver information in 2015. Other states saw similar profits, with Wisconsin pulling down $17 million in 2018 and Florida accruing $77 million in 2017.”