When hiring, the first concern most companies have is determining how effective an employee will be. In fact, the first concern should be determining if the person is actually who he or she claims to be. Regardless of the nature of your business, an employee masquerading behind a false identity can wreak havoc on your company.
Michael Chertoff, the former chief of the Department of Homeland Security, stated, “I’m going to submit to you that in the 21st Century, the most important asset that we have to protect as individuals and as part of our nation is the control of our identity, who we are, how we identify ourselves, whether other people are permitted to masquerade and pretend to be us, and thereby damage our livelihood, damage our assets, damage our reputation, damage our standing in our community.”
We are functioning in an environment in which humans have yet to be truly verified or authenticated. There are 7 billion people on the planet using thousands of various forms of identification, but with little security. In the United States, the Social Security number is, regrettably, a national ID that is available in file cabinets and databases everywhere, including for sale online. There are thousands of variations on birth certificates (I have five different versions of my own); there are people selling fake IDs, from kids on college campuses all the way up to organized criminals; and credit is wide open, which means anyone who gets hold of anyone’s identification can get credit under that person’s name.
It's important to understand what identity proofing is. As you might have guessed, identity proofing simply refers to proving that individuals are who they say they are. Identity proofing often begins with personal questions, such as asking for the name of a first grade teacher, mother’s maiden name, first phone number, or the make and model of a first vehicle—as though (in theory) only the actual person would be able to provide the correct answers. Of course, this technique is not foolproof, and now that personal information is so readily available on the Internet, knowledge-based authentication is effectively on its way to extinction—and for good reason.
The next step in identity proofing is documentation, such as a birth certificate, a copy of a utility bill, high school yearbook, mortgage statement or, of course, a driver's license or passport. Some of these identifying documents can be scavenged from the trash, but they are effective proof when combined with personal questions. Biometric features, such as fingerprints or iris scans, can help further authenticate an individual’s identity.
Identity scoring, which is in use with many mortgage brokers today, is another effective identity proofing method. An identity-score system can tag and verify the legitimacy of an individual’s public identity using the Internet and both private and government websites. Identity scores are being used to prevent business fraud and to verify and correct public records. Identity scores incorporate a broad set of consumer data, including Internet data, corporate data, personal identifiers, credit records, public and government records, self-assessed behavior patterns and predicted behavior patterns based on empirical data.
Finally, fake IDs contribute to the exasperating problem of imposter fraud. Get the ID Checking Guide to assist you with employee ID verification. Verifying an ID is important, whether for an initial screening or a final ID check. By reducing fraudulent employment applications, time and money can be saved and problem employees who lead to litigation can be averted.
Eventually, detection methods for fake IDs, such as smartcards, biometrics in all its forms, and multi-factor authentication, will help ensure that the identities presented can be trusted—and being an imposter won’t be so easy.
Read more articles on how to protect your small business from fraud.
Robert Siciliano is the author of four books, including The 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. He is also a corporate media consultant and speaker on personal security and identity theft. Find out more at www.RobertSiciliano.com.
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