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What Is Identity Verification?

Identity verification is a process used to confirm a user’s identity; to authenticate that person is exactly who they say they are. It has been around for a lot longer than you may think.

It is not unusual to show our passport when we travel abroad, or our driver’s license when opening a bank account. Manual identity verification has been the most common way we prove who we are for a long time, but as we shift more and more of our lives into the online space, digital identity verification is becoming the way we identify ourselves.

It is a requirement for almost all online transactions. Whether applying for an official document or purchasing something from an online shop, these businesses will use specific tools to authenticate the user.

The importance of identity verification whilst using online banking or when purchasing a product or service is of course apparent, but more complex methods of identity verification are increasingly being used in online businesses and institutions such as E-Learning services, social media and dating apps, and gambling/e-gambling sites.

As our entire world shifts towards digital services, we need to be able to protect ourselves from the risk of cybercrime and identity theft.

How Do You Confirm a User’s Identity?

There are several ways that a business can verify the identity of a person using today’s technological tools:

  • Document and database verification – official ID documents, such as passports and driving licenses are authenticated against public and private databases.
  • Biometric data – biometric data is based on individual biological characteristics that are unique to a person, such as a fingerprint or specific facial features. Apple is perhaps one of the most well-known companies to adopt this feature, with the implementation of the fingerprint technology (research and flesh this out more)
  • Face and video verification – using biometric data, face verification can be verified against official ID forms such as a passport or driving license using a photograph or video.
  • One-time passcode verification – single-use codes which expire after a certain amount of time will be sent out via SMS or email which the user must verify.
  • Liveness detection – advanced tools which use biometric data and analyse the background subject of videos to verify identity, and detect possible fakes.

Why Do We Need Identity Verification?

In the digital age we live in, most businesses operate in the online space and interactions with customers happen online. The days of face-to-face verification are over, and they need to have some way of protecting both their business and the customer.

Identity theft, fraud, and cybercrime are widespread in the online world, and identity verification tools provide the barriers that eliminate these risks.

In some industries, global regulators have strict policies relating to identity verification methods. Businesses can risk fines and legal action if they do not follow the rules and regulations required for their particular industry.

In the banking industry identity verification is extremely important to protect consumers’ financial assets. They also have some strict regulations to follow, such as Know Your Customer (KYC), which is the process of identifying someone at the first stages of the interaction.

Using advanced identity verification methods provides customers with a strong level of trust and reliability in the business. Enhanced levels of trust will lead to high levels of satisfaction and customer loyalty in the future.

Identity Verification Within the Car Insurance Sector

We all know that there are many rules and regulations we must follow when learning to drive and when purchasing a car. You need to apply for your driving license, and then once you’ve passed your test and are buying that first car, you need to prove who you are and that you are legally able to drive. Even when it comes to hiring a car, companies will use identity verification methods to prove you are who you say you are.

When it comes to purchasing car insurance, however, this isn’t the case at all. Insurance companies don’t conduct any identity verification checks on someone taking out car insurance, and this is causing huge problems within the industry.

Fraudsters are taking advantage of this lack of identity verification to target motor insurance customers in several ways. They are using stolen identities to insure a vehicle in someone else’s name, and they are carrying out something called ‘ghost broking’, where legitimate insurance policies are bought, doctored and then sold on to unsuspecting customers.

Ghost broking is a huge problem for the car insurance industry. Young, often non-native English speakers are being targeted and sold doctored insurance that the fraudster will often cancel, leaving the person driving using invalid insurance. It usually only becomes apparent it is invalid after the driver tries to make a claim, leaving the driver to pay the hefty penalty fees and risk losing their licence. It also pushes up insurance premiums, becoming a never-ending cycle of ghost broking.

So why don’t insurance companies conduct thorough checks?

It is pretty common for people to purchase car insurance policies on behalf of another person. Parents do it for their kids when they start learning to drive, or on behalf of a partner when insuring the same vehicle. The process wouldn’t be quite as smooth if it was a requirement to personally apply for insurance, and it might put some people off if this wasn’t industry-wide. With the cost of car insurance going up, insurance companies need to do what they can to attract and keep customers. This means keeping the process as straightforward as possible.

The Future of Car Insurance Using Identity Verification

The use of identity verification within the car insurance industry is needed now more than ever in today’s digital age. With the majority of UK car insurance buyers purchasing policies online and the shift of many services to the digital space following the pandemic, insurance companies need to collectively work together to introduce safer methods for consumers and the industry.

A clear and quick user experience is important though, and adding extra layers to the buying process will put customers off and seek what they need elsewhere. Insurance companies should look to adopt the latest technological tools to provide barriers to eliminate fraudsters.

Some authentication solutions companies are championing their tools and calling for more regulation within the industry. OCR Labs believe using OCR document recognition technology will provide a quicker way for customers to input their data, which can then be analysed against various databases.

This all needs to be done collectively though, and without strict regulation put in place by industry-led regulators such as the Association of British Insurers (ABI), nothing will change when it comes to car insurance fraud.

Organisations and regulators need to come together and select the right tools and methods to reduce risks for customers and insurance companies.