Drivers License information, full name, past and last known addresses, physical description, date of birth, etc. Motor Vehicle registration information provides year, make, model, liens on vehicles, number of vehicles owned. Obviously, all of this information can be extremely valuable for levying on a debtor’s property. However, some savvy debtors will not keep that information current or will place assets in other people’s names. Nonetheless, it may be quite valuable in locating a debtor or debtors’ assets.
Access to Information
Motor vehicle and drivers license records are maintained and may be accessed (subject to the following restrictions) from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division:
Driver and Vehicle Services
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
651-296-6911 (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
Restrictions on Access
· Record Request and Explanation of Intended Use form.
Record requests may be made by applying in person at the Driver and Vehicle Services office in Saint Paul (address above), or by mail. Access to computer records is also provided by remote, private computer connections (i.e., not on the Internet) for businesses that have authorized access. Upon receipt of a Record Request and Explanation of Intended Use form (see https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/forms-documents/documents/recordrequestform.pdf) the division will determine if the applicant is authorized to receive the requested information.
· Applicable Law
Permitted uses pursuant to the governing privacy laws that are directly applicable to motor vehicle and drivers license information are contained in THE DRIVERS PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT (18 U.S.C.S. 2721) (“DPPA”) and Minnesota Statutes, Sections 168.346, 171.12 subd 7 , and 171.12 subd. 7a. Fortunately for debt collectors, there are two exceptions to the privacy laws which apply. They may be summarized briefly as follows:
You may access and use the information in connection with any proceeding (including arbitration) in any court or government agency, or before any self-regulatory body, including investigation in anticipation of litigation. Must furnish court information or specifics related to potential litigation.
You may access and use the information to verify the accuracy of information about a person who provided the information to you (or to your client) but only if the information is used to recover on a debt against the person or to pursue legal remedies against the person for fraud.
Both exceptions are valid under the Minnesota statute and the DPPA. Both exceptions may be successfully argued to access the information by debt collectors, creditors’ counsel or an individual/corporate entity collecting a debt on its own behalf. However, awareness of abuse of the privilege to access this information has, rightfully, led to tighter controls and more watchful monitoring of the uses of the data. Let’s keep it for all, use it only when legit!