Drivers unable to change licence numbers after Optus hack due to ‘reactive’ policy

Victorians whose personal details were stolen in the Optus hack have been unable to change their driver’s licence number because of a VicRoads policy that requires evidence that a fraud has happened, not that it could happen.

Drivers attempting to change their licence number online have been told by VicRoads that if an organisation such as Optus informs them of a breach that “may have exposed [their] licence details, but no fraud has taken place, VicRoads will NOT be able to change a driver licence number”.

Drivers caught up in the Optus hack have been unable to update their licences.

Rebecca Love, who is among the millions caught up in the data breach, said she was frustrated to find the licensing agency’s approach to identity theft was “reactive” as she worked to renew various identification documents this week.

“There is anger at Optus, but then there is also anger at systems and institutions that make it more difficult when these things occur to protect yourself,” Love said.

“They’re out of step with what’s happening elsewhere. It’s quite disappointing and distressing.”

Under the VicRoads policy, people are required to provide documented proof of fraud, such as a Commonwealth Victims Certificate, court extract or police request.

The agency will also accept a company letterhead from the service provider confirming the fraud, among other forms of verification, such as an affidavit or Fines Victoria infringement report.

VicRoads’ policy has added to mounting pressure on the state government, with Premier Daniel Andrews vowing to look into delays with new documents being issued.

On Tuesday morning, Andrews said he would investigate the barriers Optus customers were experiencing with VicRoads.

“Let me look into those sorts of delays and see whether there’s something that can be done, but this is principally a matter for the federal government,” Andrews said.

State Roads Minister Ben Carroll has come under pressure to change a VicRoads policy to allow licence number changes following the Optus cyberattack.Credit:Darrian Traynor

“If we can do something to support those people … it’s a small thing but it may make a significant difference,” he said.

The Greens have written to state Roads Minister Ben Carroll demanding an immediate change to the VicRoads policy.

“We ask that you urgently look into this matter to find a solution that serves to proactively protect the driver’s licence details of those who may be at risk of fraud,” Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said in a letter seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Cybersecurity experts have found almost all the stolen identity document numbers in the Optus hack are from driver’s licences, as opposed to other documents, based on a sample of 10,000 customers’ details the hacker released online on Tuesday.

Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has refused to resign over the hack.

The breach, impacting up to 9.8 million Optus customers, has potentially led to the theft of 3.6 million licence numbers, according to an unverified post published on a hacking forum on Friday.

Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said the company had been working behind the scenes with licensing authorities to “see what we can do to reissue licences in the case where they believe that that’s necessary”.

“We’re communicating with every customer individually about which specific fields of theirs may have been accessed,” she told ABC radio on Tuesday.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has urged people who have been notified by Optus that their driver’s licence details had been compromised to replace their licence.

However, people will need to foot the bill for the replacement and discuss reimbursement with Optus, according to Services NSW.

Carroll and the state Department of Transport have been contacted for comment.

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