Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"I saw an ad for buying an International Driver's License. Gagamitin ko sana pag-bakasyon ko sa Pinas. Is this valid?"

Nope, they're not valid. Beware of these ads - if you Google "International Driver's License," you will see these scams, too. (Even if you see them in this blog's AdSense list of ads, don't click on them. They are automatically generated based on keywords.)
The Federal Trade Commission strongly advises the public about this.

It's wrong to call it International Driver's License, by the way. To get a legitimate International Driving Permit, or IDP, which allows U.S. motorists to drive in 174 countries, you have to get them ONLY from either of these two organizations: Triple A (American Automobile Association), or the National Automobile Club. They are the only organizations authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue IDPs.

IDP is a translation of your U.S. license into several languages and is available to anyone over 18 who has had a license for at least six months.

It costs $15 and is valid for a year. The scammers promise that it is valid for 5 years, which is your first clue that it is fake. The permit is not a license and if you drive abroad, you are advised to carry your IDP and U.S. license.

The fake permits advertised by scammers cost more than $100, even as much as $300, and they make you believe that they can be used as substitutes or replacement for a U.S. license or any DMV-issued ID. That's false. They are not valid in an individual's country of residence, i.e. U.S., if you live here.

The US State Department warns about the scams: "...marketers falsely claim that their documents authorize consumers to drive legally in the U.S., even if they don't have state-issued licenses or if their state-issued licenses have been suspended or revoked; can be used to avoid points or fines affecting state-issued drivers' licenses; and can be used as photo ID in the U.S.
FTC officials say all these claims are false.

In fact, if you're a U.S. resident, and you're caught using an IDP in place of your state-issued driver's license, the consequences can be severe. You could be charged with driving without a license or driving with a suspended or revoked license. If you can't produce proof of your identity (for example, a valid driver's license, a state-issued identification card, valid immigration documents, or a passport), the officer can assume that you're trying to withhold your identity and arrest you."

To apply for a legitimate IDP, you will need to fill up a form, present two passport-size photographs and your valid U.S. license.

Visit the office or download an application from:
AAA (American Automobile Association) , 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32745-5063. The application is available on-line.

National Auto Club, 1151 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, CA 94404, tel: 800-622-2136 or 800-294-7000 ; fax: 650-294-7040. Here's the application form.

For more info: or

If you've been scammed: To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

[photo: NYTimes]

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