Identity Proofing Essentials for Effective Government Operations

Who are you and how can you prove it? Seems like an easy question, yet in the digital environments where we work and live, this is no longer such a straightforward matter. Each individual is identified not only by a name, authoritative source (such as a Social Security Number, Passport, or Driver’s License), address, phone number, and other data points. We each also are characterized by additional information that taken as a whole, defines us individually from others who have similar backgrounds and biographic profiles. From one’s alma mater to a credit report to the last utility bill, organizations are aggregating more data about us individually and collectively.

Online identity verification, proofing, and fraud mitigation are continuing concerns for government agencies as more programs move to web applications. At the FCW seminar on August 12, keynote speaker, Anil John, explored best practices for trusted identity verification as defined by regulations and practiced within various agencies.  The panel representing diverse Federal agencies discussed how they are leveraging identity proofing to improve operations, assist those they intend to reach, and prevent fraudulent use of public support.

The balance between the need for security and the comfort level of users was a major theme — specifically understanding the true security needs of the program and using the least intrusive identity proofing methods and security level necessary to meet that requirement. Yet given the number of benefits, amount of funding, and eligible population for these programs, how can agency professionals ensure that they are dealing with legitimate claims from authentic applicants?

As the digital profile expands on individuals and businesses every day, attributes beyond basic identity help ensure applicants are who they assert to be and supports verification each meets the criteria for particular public benefits. In addition, this kind of aggregate data analysis can be used to detect and mitigate misuse of funds and systemic fraud with enhanced identity verification.