Securing Identities

Securing Identities

We asked three industry experts how we can secure physical credentials, prevent fraud and protect our communities

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Always Improving

Bryan Lewis, CEO of Intellicheck, Inc.

There are a lot of positive developments related to physical credentials, such as continuing improvements in the plastic, the holograms and other elements. Unfortunately, at the same time, manufacturers of fake IDs are continuing to improve their products as well. I watch the sites and within 30 days of a state coming out with, for instance, a Real ID, it’s already for sale on these sites.

From the technology standpoint, we work with folks to not only validate the front of the ID, but we leverage 26 years of experience in analyzing the full format, the front, back and barcode. At Intellicheck, we’ve got a comprehensive database of all the unique formats currently in circulation for driver’s licenses, state IDs and military IDs. So that’s our secret in terms of how we’re able to be so accurate.

Unfortunately, the tool that most businesses rely on isn’t technology, but their employees’ eyes. Law enforcement clients tell us that fake IDs are so good these days, even they have a tough time validating them visually. So you can imagine the retail store clerk looking at it to sell alcohol, or the bank clerk examining an ID presented as part of application for credit. I would say that they don’t stand a chance. Technology solutions are really the only way to do it. But I would say those looking to prevent fraud using technology definitely need to do their homework.

Intellicheck already partners with AAMVA and DMVs across the country. We are continuing to work with communities and expanding that program. A great example of collaboration is from our work with the city of Charleston, South Carolina. We worked with local legislators and businesses to stop the use of fake IDs, which were causing quite a problem on King Street with underage drinking, given the number of college students who frequent the many bars in that area. Most of the crime and nuisance issues  have since been eliminated. It just shows what you can do when you work together.

Tightening Timeframes

Tony Poole, President, document security alliance

The first step in preventing fraudulent IDs is to reduce the amount of time a specific design is valid. Certain legislatures have proposed lengthening a driver’s license validity to 18 years as a way to save costs, but that’s an irresponsible idea, in my opinion. The longer a license is valid, the longer and more easily it can be counterfeited. Obviously, we can’t issue new licenses every month or every two years but shortening the timeframe to four years would certainly help.

Another really important issue is how DMVs and state governments are generally forced to take the lowest price offer from a bidder after issuing a solicitation, which means that the licenses cover the minimum requirements. There is a major problem with that because a less sophisticated license is easier to counterfeit and ends up costing everyone a whole lot of money downstream.

When you think about the amount of money that is spent to address identity theft, underage drinking, returned goods fraud and counterterrorism, counterfeit licenses contribute, in part, to the associated and exorbitant costs that we all bear. In fact, each one of the major terrorist events that have occurred in the last 20 years were all precipitated with the use of fake IDs. Even the 9/11 terrorists used fake IDs to board the planes.

How can we work together? Well, we can’t over-communicate. As mobile driver’s licenses gain more traction, physical credentials will never go away. So, we, as a nation, need to stay ahead of the counterfeiters and continually make our licenses more secure. The only way you stay ahead of them is to constantly innovate. We must keep moving the target, as they’re going to keep chasing us.

Keeping Safe

Mark Brown, Lt. Colonel, Florida Highway Safety patrol

One of the easiest things that we can do is to protect ourselves and not generously give our information away. When it comes to individual credentials, we see a lot of people posting their first driver’s license on social media. They may cover their date of birth, or they may cover their address, but they’re still releasing their driver’s license number. I’ve even had to tell friends and family that that isn’t safe to do.

From the law enforcement point of view, many states provide training to their law enforcement officers on how to determine if a credential is fraudulent or not, but you don’t see a lot of cross-state or other states sharing that information with each other, which would be helpful.

In Florida, we have a program called DAVID, which is a driver and vehicle identification database. It has extremely detailed information, historical photographs, addresses and signatures. And it also stores the documents that were used to issue the credential, whether it was a tax bill, a bill from utility company, a passport, whatever it was, so it gives law enforcement a tool to go and look and say, are these the same people? Or is their signature the same? Are their photographs similar? This can be very beneficial when someone we stop doesn’t have a driver’s license on them, like forgetting their wallet, which happens regularly. In the past, we would take the name and date of birth and run it through our system. And if it came back, we took them on their word that it was them, and we issued the citation or the warning and let them on their way. But then, six months later, when it goes to court, you look at the person and you say, that’s not the person I stopped. That’s how it used to be, but now with DAVID, driver’s license photos are available, so you can identify the person more easily. It’s so much better now, that system has really made life so much easier for us on the roadside.

But in addition, we also participate in the AAMVA State-to-State program, which ensures that we’re sharing information with our partners. Sharing that information protects our communities from the unsafe drivers, whether they’re driving in their home state or an outside jurisdiction.  


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