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Del. Ken Plum: Who Are You?

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Beginning on October 1, Virginians will be able to obtain through the local offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles a REAL ID that complies with federal regulations to prove their identity. While having state-issued, federally-approved identification to prove who you are is offensive to many, the practical use of the REAL ID will result in most if not all complying with its requirements.

The REAL ID came about from recommendations of the 9/11 Commission studying ways to improve security to prevent other horrible terrorist acts from happening. Half of the September 11 hijackers had received driver’s licenses in Virginia. Congress passed an act to help prevent terrorist attacks and to reduce the number of licenses issued to undocumented residents. It established the requirements for states to follow in issuing driver’s licenses, and the program is implemented by the Department of Homeland Security. Under the congressionally passed law, states are required to issue licenses only to applicants who provide in-person proof of their identity and legal U.S. residency. The new cards must use the latest counterfeit-resistant security features.

Half the states are now in compliance with the new federal law, and others like Virginia have been working hard to put the new system into place. Beginning in the fall of 2020, persons who want to board a commercial flight must present a REAL ID or an alternative form of acceptable identification. Likewise, persons entering federal facilities must present a REAL ID. The DMV-issued credential will meet the requirement of REAL ID and will allow holders to access federal buildings, including military installations, and board commercial flights.

Obtaining a REAL ID when you renew your driver’s license is voluntary. That is what I intend to do. I do not want to have to remember to make a special trip to the DMV in the future to prove my identity for a REAL ID when I can do it as part of renewing my driver’s license.

To get a REAL ID you must apply in person and provide DMV with physical documentation of identity, such as an unexpired U.S. passport or a U.S. birth certificate and provide your legal presence through the same documentation. And yes, there is an additional one-time fee of $10 to help pay for the new cards. Hopefully you can visit a DMV office when they are not too busy. But you do need to go in person and take the time to meet the requirements.

Important news for those who do not drive and hence do not have a driver’s license: You can get a REAL ID through the same process just described to use for entering federal facilities, boarding commercial flights and voting.

Need more information? The DMV website is filled with full details. Check my interview with Commissioner Rick Holcomb of the DMV on YouTube after October 10 or watch it on Reston Comcast Channel 28 for public service programming or Verizon Channel 1981 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23 or at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24.

File photo

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Reston Michaels Store Among Those In Security Breach

Michaels_logosIf you shopped at the Michaels store in Reston last summer, your credit card information may have been at risk.

The craft store said Thursday that nearly 2.6 million customers’ information had been stolen from its point-of-sale system. The company said security firms had found that criminals broke into Michaels’s system using “highly sophisticated malware that had not been encountered previously by either of the security firms.”

The Reston store, one of eight in Northern Virginia affected, was breached from May 8, 2013 – July 29, 2013, Michaels said.

The stolen information at both stores includes credit and debit card numbers and expiration dates. Customer names, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and addresses were not affected, the company said.

Michaels said it would offer customers free credit monitoring services for one year.

“We previously informed our customers and relevant regulators that we might have experienced a data security issue,” the company said in a statement. “Since the announcement, we retained two independent, expert security firms to conduct an extensive investigation. We also have been working closely with law enforcement authorities and coordinating with banks and payment processors to determine the facts. As soon as available, we provided data about potentially affected payment cards to the relevant card brands so they could take appropriate action.”

The store chain says the problem has been fixed and it is now safe to use credit and debit cards at the store.

They are advising customers to contact their bank or credit card company if they think they might be at risk. Customers can also call Michaels at 1-877-412-7145.

Full list of affected stores here.

More information from Michaels.

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