How to Verify Someone's Identity

16/09/2021
Written by: Ieuan Leigh 
A passport

"Any attempt to verify identity will dramatically lower your chances of becoming a target of fraud"

With increased efforts by the UK government to drive digital ID verifications, we take a look at how ID verification works within the UK. Specifically, looking at how to verify someone's identity in the UK.

Digital identity is becoming the driving force of customer due diligence across the professional services industry in the UK. This article explores why it's important to verify someone's identity, what is actually meant by identity, the ways that criminals can go about fraudulent activities around identity, and much more!

The Covid-19 pandemic has launched all firms throughout the professional services industry into a new way of working. With clients still needing access to services, and with firms still needing to maintain their levels of compliance when verifying and validating their clients, processes such as client onboarding suddenly became a mighty struggle!

Going forward, providing a digital onboarding process for your clients will not only speed up processes by up-to 80%, but will ensure that there are no corners cut around compliance, and can free up time for staff to focus on more pressing matters.

Introduction

There are more than 68 million people currently living in the UK and each one of them has a unique identity. This grants them access to services, helps them secure employment, and makes traveling around the country easier. There are many different pieces of data and documentation that you can use to verify identity. However, in the digital age, identity fraud is becoming easier than ever before. Currently, more than 220,000 cases of identity fraud happens every year, with this figure is on the rise.

Because of this, ID verification is more important than ever. But why is digital ID so important and how do you verify it securely? The answers that your firm needs are below!

What is Identity?

A person’s identity, in the most basic sense,
relates to a number of fixed pieces of information about their life. This information is specific to
the individual, so things like race or gender are generally not used on their own to verify identity. The majority of identity information is fixed, such as their date or place of birth. Other data such as their current address may change over time and will need to be updated.

These key pieces of information about a person’s identity help to prove that they are who they say they are. For more secure verification, you can check additional pieces of identity information. This allows professional services firms, banks, and other institutions to ensure that the person they are working with is legitimate.

Why is it Important to Verify Identity?

Your identity is a major part of personal security. This is linked to your place of work, your bank accounts, and any other ventures that you take part in. So, if someone fraudulently uses a person’s identity, they can do a lot of damage in a short space of time.

Failing to verify people’s identity leaves your business, its clients, and its employees at serious risk. As a firm, you have a responsibility to perform due diligence on your clients’ identities. Without doing this you could leave yourself liable to a hefty lawsuit.

Last year, fraudulent banking activity alone totalled more than £783 million! Often this activity is linked to financial crimes. However, people can also use it to:

Access certain services or benefits that they aren’t entitled to

Steal personal or professional information Enable organised crime, such as money laundering

Conceal themselves from the police and other authorities

For example, let’s say someone is looking for employment and wants to conceal their criminal record. In that case, they might fraudulently use another identity to conceal their real one.

What Types of Fraudulent ID Are There?

There are two ways that people can commit identity fraud and understanding them will help keep your firm safe. Firstly, they could fabricate a new identity entirely. This has to be done very thoroughly in order to work properly. However, if it is done well, it can be very hard to detect. Secondly, are more commonly, people commit identity fraud by using someone else’s identity in place of their own. This involves stealing personal data to pose as them in other situations for activities such as money laundering and trafficking.

Creating Levels of Confidence in Someone’s Digital Identity

“Any attempt to verify identity will dramatically lower your chances to becoming a target of fraud”

You can use a lot of different data to prove
a person’s identity. Checking one or two pieces of information will verify their identity. However, the more data to check, the more secure you can be that their identity is valid. This is why identity verification comes in levels of confidence. These include:

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
  • Very High

Reaching any level of confidence demonstrates that you are willing to protect your business against serious identity risks. While a low confidence level doesn’t sound great, it is still far better than nothing at all. Low-level confidence reduces your risk of onboarding clients with synthetic identities.

Any attempt to verify identity will dramatically lower your chances to become a target of fraud. Criminals will tend to attack the lowest hanging fruit as they want to reduce the risk of being caught to an absolute minimum.

In order to have an increase confidence level, you must delve deeper into personal information about an individual. For example, medium-level confidence might use personal security questions or information that
isn’t in the public domain. High and very- high confidence levels will most likely use photographic or biometric verification.

Having more information about a person’s identity stored digitally makes stealing this information more difficult. So even if a fraudster has one piece of information about an individual’s identity they won’t be able to use it effectively. This means that you can have a higher level of confidence in their digital identity.

How Do You Verify Someone’s Identity?

To verify someone’s identity, you need evidence. This can be physical evidence, such as a passport, drivers license, and poof of address. Digital evidence can also be considered as copies of physical evidence.

Types of evidence:

  • Their name
  • Their data of birth
  • Their place of birth
  • Their current address
  • Their biometric information
  • A photo of them

Each individual will provide this information and then you have to verify it against official records to determine whether or not it is valid. You can verify this data in person, over the phone, via email or post, and digitally.

But, the emergence of Covid-19 has meant that the vast majority of firms have had to stop all in person validation and has increased the risk of fraud. The preferred way of identity verification going forward is digital.

So, what is digital identity verification and why it is becoming a popular option with companies across the UK?

What is Digital ID Verification?

Digital ID verification involves verifying a person’s identity using technology. This cross- references their traits and personal data with records stored in digital infrastructure, rather than a person looking these up manually.

This includes basic information, such as their address, passport photos, or biometric data. However, it might also include personal security information that they have provided themselves.

For example, professional services firms will ask for a client to provide at least two pieces of data to verify their identity - this tends to be a passport and a utility bill. Software can then process these documents to ensure they are correct, as well as checking the individual through Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Politically Exposed Person (PEP) registers.

So why is digital verification leading the way when it comes to ID security?

What Are the Benefits of Verifying Digital ID?

There are several ways that digital verification can strengthen your organisations security making sure you don’t run afoul of AML and KYC requirements.

First and foremost, when checking someone’s ID digitally, you can cross-reference against a lot of data. Storing people’s data digitally
is much easier and efficient; meaning you

can handle more of it in order to verify their identity and in less time.

Because of this, you can quickly improve the level of confidence you have in your ID verification system. On top of this, you also improve the quality of the evidence that you are using to check their ID, so you will score more highly in this area as well.

This all means that you can boast of having an excellent security and risk mitigation strategies in place across the board in your company, which will make potential clients much keener to work with you along with less hassle from regulatory bodies.

However, verifying IDs digitally will also save you a lot of time and money. Experienced digital verification teams will be able to run checks for you so that you don’t have to waste time doing this yourself. Digitally checking records is also much quicker than doing this in person.

This means that you can process data quickly and speed up your onboarding process. Essentially, this streamlines an essential part of your company’s security.

Better verification in a shorter space of time also means that you are getting better value for the money that you spend. So, what’s not to like? However, digital verification is especially helpful if you want to run an active history check.

How Validient can help!

As you can see, when it comes to your company’s security, verifying digital ID is an absolute must. This ensures the safety of your company, staff, and clients’ data.

Here at Validient we help verify individuals using their digital identification to make it easier for you to start working with your clients, whilst ensuring you’re ticking all of your compliance boxes!

Additionally, Validient takes your client through the next steps for them to be fully engaged throughout their transactions. This includes regular transaction updates, additional documentation upload, and providing insights to your firm. For more information book a demo or email info@validient.com.

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