From folk tales to modern criminology, identity theft has made its presence known throughout the history of humanity. In the past few decades, the loopholes in digital security have caused it to grow into an even more pressing problem.
If anything, the issue has further cemented its presence in the past year itself. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak increases everyone’s dependency on online platforms and electronic payments, the possibilities for identity theft have also expanded to a greater extent.
With work from home (WFH) modalities and online shopping activities becoming the new normal for a large segment of the global population, identity proofing has also become a crucial part of digital security in 2021. Regardless of the type of work that you do or the online activities that you perform, your identity is even more prone to being misused by bad actors on the web.
This jeopardizes your online presence as an individual and causes a world of issues for your business operations. If your organization is dealing with clients behind the screen without extensive security measures in place, it can expose your operations to various possibilities of being manipulated by identity thieves.
That’s why identity verification has become one of the topmost concerns for everyone in the post-COVID-19 era. Regardless of your activities as an individual or a business, it’s essential that you pay optimal attention to confidential information usage.
- Why is Identity Proofing Necessary in the Face of Theft?
- Why is Identity Verification Necessary in the Post-pandemic World?
- How Does ID Verification or ID Proofing Work in the Real World?
Why is Identity Proofing Necessary in the Face of Theft?
Simply put, identity theft relates to any instances where someone else steals an individual’s information and uses it to impersonate them in various settings. This could happen in several online and offline scenarios. In either case, it puts the affected individual’s financial and personal safety in jeopardy.
Identity thieves can strike an individual in a variety of ways that may include but are not limited to:
- Stealing personal information such as name, address, and Social Security Number (SSN).
- Stealing financial details such as credit card numbers and bank account information.
- Stealing online data, such as personal emails, texts, and social media profiles.
- Stealing important documents or details such as driver’s license number.
Whenever ID thieves get a hold of this information, it becomes easier for them to perform many illicit activities. This could create a plethora of problems for those who have their identities stolen, with issues ranging from financial loss to legal liabilities.
It’s because depending upon the kind of identity theft and its resulting activities, those who steal someone else’s information can misuse the details for various purposes.
These may commonly include the following activities.
- We are utilizing credit card information to make unauthorized purchases.
- Changing mailing addresses for financial correspondence and instruments.
- Writing false checks and misdirecting funds through financial accounts.
- Using personal and confidential data to conduct illegal activities.
- Obtaining new identification documents to initiate fraudulent operations.
Due to this reason, every individual needs to be highly vigilant about protecting their identity. Whereas every relevant business should put intricate identity proofing measures in place to counter possibly fraudulent activities.
Why is Identity Verification Necessary in the Post-pandemic World?
As mentioned above, identity theft has been a significant problem throughout various walks of life. But it has become an incredibly challenging issue after COVID-19 struck the world and changed everything as we know it.
Now that many businesses are actively shifting their operations online, it has become intensely crucial for many of them to determine that they are dealing with an authorized person to deliver their respective services. Otherwise, these organizations could inadvertently help bad actors impersonate someone else or use their ID information without consent.
This is especially true for businesses that deal in critical sectors such as finance, IT, and business management. If these organizations treat the other party on its word without stringent verification, they could be taking critical instructions from the wrong person and executing crucial functions without actual authorization. In addition to putting the customer in harm, this could also expose the organization in question to various risks. From reputational damage to leaked information, the business could go through a plethora of unwanted scenarios after delivering confidential data or services to unauthorized individuals.
If you run or manage such a business, you must look into proper identity verification measures to keep your clients and your own business out of harm’s way. Fortunately, the availability of various options makes it easier for you as well as your clients to protect their identities from being stolen or misused.
In many scenarios, it is a mutual effort between your business and the end-users of its services. However, that is not always the case. Even after educating your clients about the threats of identity theft, you still need to look into proper identity proofing practices on your own that ensure the safety of your operations.
How Does ID Verification or ID Proofing Work in the Real World?
As mentioned earlier, identity theft is not a novel concept. Similarly, identity verification is also nothing new. It has existed since the initial rise of digital services.
From using biometric scanners in ATMs to verifying billing addresses with credit card numbers, these protective measures have been in place for almost as long as the introduction of their respective services.
But in 2021, the game has changed altogether. For better or for worse, anyone with a device as simple as a smartphone can access critical information right through their fingertips. This brings more convenience to the table, especially in a world ridden with a pandemic. But it also adds more risks to an atmosphere that’s already rife with personal security threats.
When your business turns to ID verification or ID proofing in such a scenario, it can look into several measures that provide an elevated level of protection against many harmful situations.
These measures can range across a variety of options. But the most commonly include the following practices.
- Know Your Customer (KYC) Procedures
- Credit Report Checks
- Documentation Submission
- Security Questions
- Multi-factor Authentication
Know Your Customer (KYC) Procedures
In many instances, performing basic KYC procedures can help your organization understand that you are communicating with the authorized person behind the information. This process is reserved for new clients and mostly used by financial services firms.
It may include several document and ID verification points such as address, contact number, and email. This identity proofing practice ensures who you are dealing with and whether you should let them access your services in the first place.
Credit Report Checks
A credit report is another popular way to determine if you are dealing with an authorized person with access to various points of information from their life. Due to its detailed checks on financial activity, this particular report is favored by creditors as well as financial services firms.
In addition to adding another level of identity verification, a credit report also lets you determine the individual’s financial commitments in question. This also helps you steer clear of several risks.
While the above two measures are quite widespread in multiple sectors, they are reserved for the verification of new clients. When it comes to ID proofing both new and old clients, you can look into documentation submission as an added practice.
If you have the required services in place, digital documentation submission can help you conduct your operations without a physical visit by the client. This is especially helpful in 2021 and the associated environment that we may have ahead due to COVID-19.
In many cases of identity theft, bad actors can gain access to a user’s login information to a respective business’ website. This login information can then let them access crucial financial and confidential data, which opens doors to significant problems for the user as well as the respective business.
By adding security questions as a prerequisite to performing critical operations, you can add another layer of identity verification to the mix. This further helps you confirm that only an authorized party can access crucial account features.
Perhaps the easiest yet most widely used ID proofing practice comes in the form of multi-factor authentication. This aspect requires digital systems to verify the user’s identity through two or more points of contact before allowing them access to the respective database or system.
These points of contact usually include phone and email. This reduces the risk of identity thieves gaining access to your system or clients’ information and helps you confirm to a great extent that you are dealing with the authorized person. This measure works for both new and old clients alike.
By using these identity proofing practices, you can ensure that you can secure your business, enhance your client’s trust, and protect your mutual interests on a constant basis.
These Verification Measures Work Both Ways
In recent years, the concept of identity verification has moved beyond user identification. It now also applies to businesses who are reaching out to the end-user for any type of information. This aspect has seen a heightened level of activity in 2021, where people are depending more and more on digital communication and dealing with increased risks of being contacted by identity thieves.
By making sure that your organization reaches out to your clients through verified profiles, designated phone numbers, and official emails, you can ensure that you can confirm your identity to the end-user. This enhances clients’ trust in your services and makes sure that you are able to cater to their needs even in a highly challenging environment.
This particular aspect is often aided by educational emails, texts, and other forms of communication. When you take the time to tell your clients how they can confirm the identity of your business or its representatives, it lets you ensure that you are employing identity proofing measures in a multifaceted way.
By keeping these points in mind, you and your clients can fulfill the critical requirements of identity verification in 2021. While employing these measures may not seem easy at first, the process becomes simpler when you take your time to understand it. Reaching out to expert ID verification services providers may also help, and allows you to move forward with proper consultation and subsequent execution of these measures.