Dear PoPville – Social Security Number on Parking Ticket?!?

Photo by PoPville flickr user BrennaLM

“Dear PoPville,

I had parallel parked on a residential block of 11th street NW in a spot that was apparently reserved for a handicapped person that lived there. I did not see the sign (it was dark and I wasn’t looking for it, because I didn’t realize that a personal reserved handicapped spot was a thing–dumb, I know). When I came back to my car, I saw the $250 ticket, which was a gut punch, worsened by the fact that there was a free spot right in front of me.

I thought that was the worst of it, but as I studied the ticket (which was sitting on my windshield, face up, with no envelope, for all to see), I saw that it not only had my first, middle and last name, my address, my date of birth, my home address, and my license plate number, but it also had MY FREAKING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ON IT! This seems like a massive privacy violation, not to mention incredibly stupid (and I think illegal) due to the HIGH RISK that anyone walking by could easily steal my identity or use the information for other ill purposes.

I saw online that a class action lawsuit was successful, ruling that police departments that put too much information on parking tickets are violating privacy law–and that case didn’t even involve a social security number! Has this happened to anyone else? Is it common/legal? Does anyone have advice of how I should proceed in reporting and possibly litigating this?

I’ve since learned about the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act, which governs the disclosure of personal information gathered by the DMV and the recent (2012) 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said that police that put too much personal information on parking tickets are in violation of the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (and the case in question here didn’t even have social security numbers on the ticket), so it really does seem like a violation was committed. Oh, yeah, and I called the police station (that’s who gave me the ticket) and they were phenomenally unhelpful and basically just said I could come into the station and file a complaint.”

Ed. Note: When I first got a DC drivers license in ’97 we had our Social Security number printed on the card, later this was removed and replaced with a random number. Never heard of one on a parking ticket before.

44 Comment

  • I guess I’ve never looked at my tickets closely other than to see the amount of fine it is for. Thought usually it just had vehicle information and not owners information. Guess I’ll pay attention next time.

    • I pore over every inch of my tickets, looking for incorrect information I can use to contest them, and have never seen my personal information on them. Granted it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a ticket, but I’ve inspected those of my friends in recent years. This is definitely not normal.

  • I would strongly recommend contacting the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the DPPA.

  • Are you sure it was a real ticket? I’ve seen many and they don’t even have boxes for that kind of information.

  • >> Does anyone have advice of how I should proceed in reporting and possibly litigating this?

    My only advice is talk to a lawyer and not get legal advice from strangers on the Internet.

    • I get a ticket about once a month and have never seen personal information on it but why is this something that needs to be litigated? Escalate to your council member and have the practice stopped.

      • A ticket once a month? I’m guessing your job pays for it or something like that. You can’t be doing this on accident right? This has to be something else.

        • I have a frequent visitor who gets ticketed every month or so for parking in my neighborhood, even though he got a ROSA exemption. He has to keep getting them dismissed.

          • At the risk of telling you something you already know, a ROSA exemption is not the same thing as a parking permit. You still have to follow the posted parking rules (e.g. zone parking, etc.) If he keeps getting parking tickets it might be because he’s not parking legally.

          • Good. Tell your frequent visitor to stop taking parking spots from your neighbors.

          • He uses my visitor pass and is only there once or twice a week. Get over yourselves. He has no trouble getting them dismissed so clearly he’s in the right.

  • parking enforcement in DC is done by DPW. You can contact the director: or the Council committee that oversees it: Mary Cheh chairs the committee and she’s a lawyer so maybe she’d be sensitive to your privacy argument. At the least, they should only print the last 4 digits of the SSN!

    • This. Likely a recent software update stepped on some filters. Been there done that, stayed up all night fixing.

    • MPD can and does write tickets too. Generally when DPW is not writing them (sundays) though they can do it at other times too.

      • Typically the MPD-issued tickets are hand-written. If this is the case, I find it hard to believe the officer bothered to get all of the personal information from dispatch to fill all of this out, but maybe it was a slow shift.

        • They use ticket printers now, too. And here’s what I’m thinking happened. Since this space is person-specific, the officer wanted to check the identity of the owner of the car before issuing the ticket. He or she then either used the computer in the cruiser or radioed in the license plate no. and got the personal information. Obviously the real screwup was putting the information on the ticket itself, which should be pursued — not through a lawsuit or anything, but through official complaint channels. The website is

    • If they print the last 4 and your name there are simple public databases that will fill-in the first 5. Given that the ticket is being left on the street for anyone to grab they should post no social security information,. The license plate should be sufficient — its why we require them in the first place.

  • Are you sure it was a real ticket? I’ve seen many, and they don’t even have boxes for that kind of information.

    • I should hope it was a real ticket, otherwise this situation is even scarier.

      • +1. Definitely worth getting to the bottom of this — whichever D.C. agency is issuing tickets with this kind of PII needs to stop doing so, pronto.
        I don’t see that it’s worth litigating unless you end up with your identity being stolen as a result. IMO, the better course of action would be to raise a fuss with Mary Cheh and your councilmember/possible future councilmember to make sure that this practice is stopped (and maybe also get D.C. to agree to fund a year of credit monitoring for you).

    • Under what circumstances would it make any sense for it to not be real ticket? Why would somebody go to the trouble of getting all of your personal information, print it on a fake ticket, and then put it on your car? (Rhetorical question, obviously…no one would do that…ever.)

  • Have parking tickets changed recently? Mine have never had any more personally identifying information than the make/model of car, license plate number and occasionally the VIN. Who was the issuing agency? DPW, MPD or someone else?

  • Is it possible the tickets given out by the police are the ones that have more info on them and the ones given out by the regular meter maids have less information?

  • way to contribute

  • They pay you big bucks to be this helpful?

  • 1. The OP had no idea they were parking illegally
    2. Even people who follow all the rules wrongly get tickets sometimes. Park in DC long enough and it’s bound to happen.
    3. Even if this person was parked on the White House lawn they don’t deserve to have their PII out there for anyone to see.

  • I just checked a parking ticket I received last week and beside the vehicle information, there is nothing else. Something sounds fishy. Can you blur out your personal info and post what the ticket looks like here?

  • I’ve seen first and last name with address listed on moving violations. But I’ve not seen it with SSN.

  • OP:

    I’m not sure how this could happen as parking tickets in the District are written based on vehicle information, not driver information. In other words, MPD parking tickets should not contain any personally identifying information because a parked car does not have a driver and therefore there is no way for an officer to include that information on a ticket. If you could please send the ticket to mpd (@) dc (dot) gov, we would be happy to look into it.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I’m the original poster. To answer some of the questions I’ve gotten on here: I have a (new within the last few months) DC license and my driver’s license number is not the same as my social security number (different number of digits even). And, yes, the ticket was issued by MPD. Is there someone more specifically I can address my e-mail to? At the risk of sounding even more paranoid, I’m a little hesitant to scan the ticket and send it into the ether of some catch-all MPD e-mail address, since, well, as I mentioned, it has basically all of my PII on it. Thanks for reaching out!

      • Keep the original. Send a photocopy. And I would second the other suggestions that you bring this up with (a) your own councilmember and (b) whichever councilmember is in charge of MPD. BTW the name of the ticketing officer should also be on the ticket (and if it isn’t, that would be very suspicious).

  • Dear POP could you or somebody start to review these “personal reserved handicapped spaces” seems like more of them are popping up and many of the people that are getting them don’t look very handicapped.

    • Excuse me, but you are the one in charge of deciding who is and is not handicapped. Don’t be a vigilante asswipe.

      • meant to say “but you are not the one in charge of deciding who is and is not handicapped.” Disabled people get accused all the time of fakery and it sucks. Don’t contribute to that.

    • How dare you propose stalking disabled people and accusing them of being fakes. It’s not your business, and trying to make it your business is an invasion of folks’ privacy.

      • Except to expose fraud is actually protective of those who need the spaces.

        • I would rather people who don’t need them using them than deal with intrusive and unnecessary harassment of handicapped persons by the general public. There’s a high burden of proof in obtaining handicapped status. As such, abuse rates are typically very low.

        • It’s the DMV and MPD’s duty to persecute abusers. Not passersby’s.

  • I’m guessing OP is from out of state?

    In some states the default used to be to use your SSN as your driver’s license number, unless you opt-out. The slot was probably for Driver’s License Number, and that just happens to be this person’s SSN.

  • Whaaaat. I’ve never even had my name put on a ticket. That kind of non-moving ticket is an infraction for the vehicle itself, not the owner or any driver. This meaning that you simply can’t renew registration for the vehicle until you do, and if the car accumulates multiple tickets it can be booted/towed.

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