COLUMBUS, Ohio — After spending months digging through public records, 10 Investigates discovered in July 2021 that the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles made more than $40 million in 2020 selling personal information from drivers and vehicles to third parties.
10 Investigates' review of state data also uncovered that sales from this practice earned the state $250 million in revenue over the past decade.
Data brokers, credit agencies, insurance and towing companies, along with private investigators, were among those who purchased access to the personal information from the state.
The practice of selling personal information is relatively common as 10 Investigates found that at least 35 states either sell or provide access to this information to government agencies and private companies.
The practice is legal through the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, but comes with several restrictions.
While the law works to withhold the release of driver personal information, it also has 14 exemptions that allow for government agencies or private companies to access the information for limited purposes such as research, insurance underwriting, court notices and auto safety recalls.
Third parties who buy the personal information cannot use it to send you direct marketing or solicit to you materials.
Following the initial 10 Investigates report, viewers suggested that they believe robocalls or direct mailer solicitations they received regarding extended auto warranties might be directly tied to the BMV's sale of their personal information.
When asked back in July, state BMV Registrar Charlie Norman said the state is not the direct source of solicitations sent to drivers. He added that some of the other sources could be your bank if you finance a car or any number of different entities.
Fast forward to February 2022, 10 Investigates informed Norman of the issues consumers were still facing.
"We are appreciative of bringing [the issues] to our attention. It's going to help us make sure we don't have bad actors in our system," Norman said.
Chief Investigative Reporter Bennett Haeberle tested the system, and then he questioned the state, asking if it was doing everything it should to protect your personal information. Watch the special report Monday on 10TV News at 6 to learn what the BMV says it is doing to better protect your personal info.