in this issue

Christine Champion, Escrow Officer for Lawyer's Title in Phoenix, was working on a sale transaction. She scheduled a mobile signing agent to meet with her seller who was located in Pennsylvania. The appointment was set.

The mobile signing agent met with the seller, acknowledged his signature and sent the original documents back to Christine. Included in the package was a copy of the seller's identification (ID). Christine had some reservations about this transaction because the seller was very difficult to get a hold of. He was also an absentee seller, meaning he did not live in the property being sold through this transaction, so she was extremely cautious.

Christine reviewed all the documents thoroughly but gasped when she looked at the seller's ID. She noticed it read, "NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES." What does that mean?


Christine was taken aback. She sent a copy of the ID to her supervisor, who forwarded it on to National Escrow Administration was impressed by Christine's observation. However, we also knew there was a real — we mean REAL possibility this was a valid ID.

The Corporate Escrow Administrator provided Christine with the following link: She also recommended Christine call the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Christine did call the Pennsylvania DMV who verified they do issue driver's licenses and identification cards which read, "NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES," but they are otherwise valid. What is a REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act established minimum security standards nationwide, for state–issued driver's licenses and identification cards. Beginning on October 1, 2020, only REAL IDs will be acceptable for federal purposes, such as the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) screening process at airports to fly on domestic commercial flights, or to gain access to a military base. The wording on the driver's license is ironic; clearly not well thought out.

Anyone planning on utilizing their driver's license to travel or access federal facilities will want a REAL ID. A passport is sufficient, but for those who travel domestically on a frequent basis getting a REAL ID may be beneficial.

There are four categories of information the DMV uses to identify persons in order to comply with the provisions of the REAL ID Act:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Two proofs of current, physical address
  • Proof of all legal name changes, if applicable

It is important to review the local DMV website for a detailed list of requirements for the types of acceptable information.

Most states do not place such confusing statements on their ID as Pennsylvania does. Instead, they only identify REAL IDs by including a gold star in the top right hand corner of the ID. Here is a sample of a REAL ID issued by the Pennsylvania DMV:


We applaud Christine for her observation skills. She was already on alert since she was handling a sale for an absentee owner and she never let her guard down. She is being rewarded $1,500 for her efforts. Keep up the good work Christine!

As a side note, to date, the Company has delivered $245,000 in rewards to its employees who have successfully thwarted crimes in their own transactions.

Article provided by contributing author:
Diana Hoffman, Corporate Escrow Administrator
Fidelity National Title Group
National Escrow Administration


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