You may not think about it often, but digital identity is important to nearly every aspect of everyday life. It’s not an esoteric concept limited to cybersecurity professionals.
Want to rent a car, sign up for a bank account, or register for a 5K race?
You’ll need to verify your identity somehow, even if it’s as cursory as submitting your name and address.
Identity is just as important when you’re online. Digital identities determine how we interact with each other on social media, perform online transactions, and access information. In 2023, it’s clear that digital identity is a critical infrastructure that requires significant government and private sector investment. The negative ramifications of our ineffective digital identity system are also ever-present and growing: the FTC saw over 1.1 million reports of identity theft in 2022, more than three times higher than in 2017.
This is the underlying context behind April 11’s National Identity Management Day, an entire day hosted by the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) dedicated to identity management.
With the deluge of recently-invented awareness days – for example, April 11 is also “World Breathing Day” – it’s okay if you didn’t know the second Tuesday of April was reserved for identity management awareness. Still, I appreciate the effort to get individuals, businesses and government agencies to think about digital identity. When implemented well, digital identity can lead to increased efficiency, improved equity and access, and reduced fraud. If we want to follow IDSA’s guidance and #BeIdentitySmart from a government perspective, it’s worth examining how identity affects the world from the bottom of this blog, learn how digital identity verification can lead to improved financial equity and access, and reduced fraud.m up.
An ineffective digital identity has real-world consequences. I grew up in a single-worker household where we often lived paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t gain full access to the financial system until my 20s, and even then I always found it hard to verify my identity online due to my lack of credit history. This led to wasted time and resources as I had to verify my identity in person or contact customer service.
These disadvantages also left me more vulnerable to identity theft and scammers. My experience is hardly an exception. Forty five million Americans are considered “thin-file” or credit invisible, which means they lack enough credit history to verify their identity online. What’s worse, legacy identity verification providers’ automatic approval rates range from 30 to 70 percent, excluding millions of Americans from using digital services.
Digital identity for the government is more than password hygiene and encouraging two-factor authentication, it’s about delivering a secure and accessible experience for everyone, whenever they need it. This includes “day zero” moments when someone is accessing a federal or state agency for the first time. When legitimate applicants arrive at a government portal and are asked to verify their identity at the gate, they should not be unfairly penalized for lack of credit, address or name changes, or age. At the same time, governments should also protect their constituents from fraud rings and nation-state actors that steal benefits from the beginning, rather than waiting for fraud to happen and then trying to recapture lost money.
At Socure, we think one of the best ways to address these issues is increased transparency: any public-private partnership on digital identity should regularly publish its success rates for verification and fraud prevention.
Thankfully, the tide seems to be turning; Americans’ struggles with digital identity are being heard at the highest levels of government.
During his 2023 State of the Union address, President Biden made a call to “crack down on identity fraud by criminal syndicates stealing billions of dollars from the American people”.
The White House followed up with increased funding to protect state unemployment systems from fraud and a call for more funding to halt identity theft in public benefits.
Try to envision a world without online identity theft. Every American can quickly access government services online without obstacles while government programs are protected from fraud. It’s not too good to be true. Socure’s mission is to make effective digital identity a reality by verifying 100% of good identities in real-time and eliminating fraud for every application on the internet.
We’re well on our way – Socure is helping state and federal agencies increase access to government digital services.
Learn more about how Socure can improve acceptance rates for underserved communities, remove significant friction experienced during enrollment processes, and disrupt organized crime and fraud rings.
Jordan Burris is the Vice President of Strategy - Public Sector at Socure. In this role, he partners with government leaders to develop and scale Socure's public sector offerings for identity verification and fraud detection. This includes leading efforts to promote and evangelize industry leading concepts in digital identity inclusion and fairness.
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