How Does Selfie Identity Verification Work?

With the continued rise of cybercrime, companies have adopted more sophisticated methods of ID verification. In addition to user names, passwords, security questions and ID documents, many are using multi-factor authentication, biometric verification (including facial and iris verification) and liveness detection. These methods are sometimes necessary to determine whether a person is who they claim to be.

Another way organizations can determine user identity is selfie ID verification. This process allows organizations such as the U.S. Social Security Administration to compare a selfie to your official document pictures, allowing them to verify your identity without visiting a facility in person. It’s another level of ID verification.

What Is Selfie ID Verification?

Verification with a selfie ID is one type of biometric verification. In this case, institutions ask you to take a selfie, usually providing you with a text link that allows you to take your picture with your smartphone, tablet or computer, and then submit it immediately.

Once they receive the selfie, the organization compares the selfie to trusted photo ID documents. These documents are usually issued by government agencies and include your driver’s license, passport and state ID. This process ensures no one else is trying to use your account.

Most institutions accept a selfie, but a few may require video selfies or even a video call for even greater security. Those that use selfie ID verification usually employ face-matching software with advanced algorithms and the scalability required for accuracy.

Selfie Verification Process

The value of the selfie verification process is that ID verification typically happens digitally in real time. That means the actual person is communicating with the organization and following instructions as they’re issued. There is no significant time lapse. The selfie verification process includes the following steps:

  1. During account onboarding, you’ll be asked to provide various forms of ID verification, including government ID documents. You will usually be asked to photograph and then upload them to the website or app.
  2. After you complete the enrollment process, you’ll be asked to log in for the first time.
  3. During some or all subsequent logins, you will be asked to take and upload a selfie ID with your smartphone, webcam or tablet so it can be compared to the scanned government documents.
  4. The organization will use its facial recognition software to determine if your picture matches your government ID photo document.
  5. If your selfie passes their scrutiny, you will be given access to your account.
  6. As time goes by, you will be asked to upload new government ID documents (as you get them) so your photo reflects your current appearance. The organization will insist on ongoing verification procedures to keep your account safe.

Why Are Biometrics and ID Verification On The Rise?

Biometrics and ID verification are necessary precautions due to the increase in fraudsters who can buy consumer information on the dark web, hack into accounts on their own or use phishing emails to gather sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, names and addresses. As these scammers have become more sophisticated, ID verification has been forced to evolve as well.

The problem is real. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reported that 1,291 data breaches occurred in the first three quarters of 2021. In fact, phishing attacks almost doubled from 2019 to 2020, and ransomware payout increased by 82% in just the first half of 2021. Biometrics is a strong way to battle this increase in cybercrime, particularly identity theft.

In addition, malware has become more advanced and easy to spread from infected online links or email. Biometrics, with its advanced algorithms, gives organizations (especially those in the financial industry) much more security. It helps protect users’ Social Security numbers, online accounts and even workflows.

Cybercriminals cannot provide ID selfies or fingerprints, and they can’t fake facial recognition. With these methods, your company can be certain the online user is who they say they are.

Friction With Selfie ID Verification

Selfie ID verification is great when it works, but you need the right facial recognition system as well as a website or app that allows easy uploading of the selfies and also assures security and data protection. Those who hesitate to implement selfie ID verification do so for two main reasons:

  • Conversion rates — The number of people completing the registration/login process may drop. Some people are intimidated by the technology, while others simply struggle with the process. It can be time-consuming, leading some consumers to simply abandon the effort. To avoid this problem, choose a solution that’s optimized for frictionless onboarding.
  • Security concerns — A selfie ID verification does add a level of security when done correctly, but some customers worry about their government ID documents and selfies going to third parties. Having this information “floating around” on the internet may lead to bad actors acquiring and using it. That’s why companies like Jumio take security and data protection very seriously.

Other Methods of Digital Identity Verification

Other digital identity verification methods include the following:

  • ID document verification — You will be asked to submit an official government ID so your personal data can be verified.
  • Liveness detection — A selfie ID can be considered a liveness detection method since you must be actively engaged with the website to authenticate your identity. Other liveness detection methods include asking you to identify which pictures in a series contain a car or stoplight. These exercises eliminate bot logins.
  • Trusted identity network — Some third-party companies specialize in verifying your identity so you can more easily log into your accounts. They often offer a verified checkmark to confirm your user’s identity.
  • Multi-factor authentication — This method requires you to verify your identity through two or more routes. You may enter your user name, password and phone number before inputting a code sent via SMS to your phone.
  • Knowledge-based authentication — This method requires answers to questions that only you and perhaps your closest loved ones would know, such as the name of the street you grew up on.

Integrating Biometrics Into KYC Identity Proofing Workflows

Jumio’s automated, highly accurate and user-friendly identity verification solutions help businesses convert more customers faster and dramatically reduce abandonment rates. Jumio uses advanced face-matching software and liveness detection to prevent spoofs. It also provides a powerful orchestration tool that lets you take a risk-based approach to onboarding, creating a frictionless experience for your legitimate customers and only adding more checks as needed for higher-risk customers. By combining a great user experience with advanced biometrics and orchestration, you can maximize conversions while maintaining KYC and AML compliance.

To find out more about how Jumio can help keep your accounts secure and your company in compliance with government regulations, contact us today.


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