To Stop Paper Tag Fraud, Texas DMV Wants Dealer Fingerprints On File

The move comes after it was discovered that small dealers were printing thousands of the tags

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Image: KXAN NBC Austin YouTube (Other)

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is making moves to curb what has been described as a $200 million criminal enterprise. Those moves include a recommendation to perform background checks of car dealer personnel to stop the making of illegal registration tags.

The accouncement follows an investigation by Dallas’ NBC5 who first reported on the massive theft operation performed by Texas-area dealers. In the investigation, it was found some dealers were selling the fake registration tags to criminals who were using them to evade authorities.

NBC5 reports small dealers and sometimes dealers that didn’t even exist shelled out thousands of registration tags a month. One dealer, which turned out to be an abandoned building, gave out over 17,000 tags in eight months.


They also found that the DMV’s system was entirely too easy to gain access to. For the small price of $800, someone can legally register as a dealer with the Texas DMV, just so they can print tags.

Since NBC5’s investigation, the Texas DMV has been scrambling to get things fixed. One of those proposed fixes is to have fingerprints on file for dealer personnel, but that step would also require approval by the state legislature. From NBC:

This is just a first step as the full DMV board will still have to approve this recommendation and then there are legal questions about whether the DMV can collect fingerprints from dealers without additional approval from the state legislature.

DMV legal staff is still trying to determine if the agency needs approval from the legislature before it can fingerprint dealers. If it does, the next legislative session is not until 2023.


The Texas House Transportation Committee has said it wants to hold hearings on the issue soon. One Texas Senator Royce West says there should be a special session in place to deal with this sooner than later. Saying “You know, we’ve called special sessions for a lot of what I think is nonsense—this isn’t nonsense.”