How often do you Google a candidate you’re serious about or check them out on social media before bringing them in for interview? Regularly, right? Particularly if the role you’re hiring for is pretty senior or specialised.
But winging it with important checks is not the best idea… How so? Because you don’t actually know how much of the content on the profile is an honest reflection versus how much is staged.
Identity verification is serious business
Of all the pre-employment screening checks you conduct, ID verification is your fundamental first step. In fact, any next-step screening should not move ahead until you are absolutely satisfied the applicant is definitely who they say they are.
With over 500 identities being compromised every day in the UK alone, identity theft is a rapidly growing problem. Findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics tell us nearly 29% of all robberies between 2017 and 2018 involved theft of ID, passports and other personal identification items. In 2016 in the US, a whopping 791 million identities were stolen.
Reports from the Australian Federal Police show identity theft is used to:
- Open bank accounts
- Apply for credit cards, loans, and government benefits
- Order goods and services
- Obtain passports, driver licenses and other personal documents
- Secure employment in your name
Yes, you read that right.
Employment identity is one of the least talked about forms of identity theft but one that can have devastating effects on your company’s financial position or reputation, and the safety or wellbeing of your employees and customers.
It can easily happen when a fraudster uses a UK National Insurance Number (NIN), Australian Tax File Number (TFN) or similar government-issued social security numbers to prove employability in a given country.
False employee identification is also used:
- For dishonest financial gain which can include falsifying educational qualifications to obtain employment, credit fraud, or government benefits fraud
- To avoid financial responsibility such as paying debts or taxes by linking earned income records to the stolen name
- To illegally obtain genuine documents through the use of false “breeder” documents like TFN or NIN cards.
What can you do to safeguard against identity fraudsters?
Reliable identity verification depends on what processes you use, and how many pieces of evidence you collect, among them.
- Attributed identity – the components we’re given at birth, including our name, place and date of birth, and the names of our parents.
- Biographical identity – our personal history over time including, but not limited to, past and current addresses, the schools we have attended, education received, qualifications achieved, employment history, credit history, marriage or civil partnership registration, and so on.
- Biometric identity – the biological attributes unique to each of us such as facial structure, fingerprints, retina, voice, and DNA profile.
Successfully verifying someone’s identity using a combination of physical and digital processes safeguards you and your organization from hiring a candidate pretending to be someone they’re not.
Physical (paper) verification
A paper-based process lets you closely examine document evidence in the presence of an applicant. As an added measure you may want to use a UV light source and magnifying glass to check for basic forgeries.
The strength of physical documents hinge on what attributed identity information is included and security features such as a hologram or electronic chip.
Keep in mind, however, that advances in electronic equipment and software have resulted in an increase in high quality forged and counterfeit documents. Further, this kind of verification can be time-consuming, particularly for less experienced staff unaware of the security features embedded in passports, identity cards, driving licences and the likes.
Digital (electronic) verification
To use the software tools and databases available for real-time ID information. Although this form of verification offers short turnaround times, results simply demonstrate the identity exists.
That said, young candidates or newcomers are unlikely to have built up a traceable footprint. They may be ineligible to vote, so do not appear on the Electoral Roll. Or they may not have a bank account, credit cards or a mortgage and have an undeveloped or non-existent credit history.
Also be aware that databases and other digital sources used for identity verification may contain inaccurate or out of date information. Human and system errors can result in duplicate records being created or data input mistakes.
The UK government’s guide, Identity Proofing and Verification of an Individual is an excellent resource to point your identify verification activities in the right direction.
You may also want to consult an ID verification expert or simply embrace background checking software with the demonstrated ability to identify sophisticated forgeries and unearth crucial records.
At this point, it’s important to ask:
- What data sources are used?
- How accurate the data is?
- How often the data is updated?
- Whether there are any data protection/privacy issues concerning the databases to be used, and/or the applicant’s information?
The business case for performing pre-employment background checks is clear. But it’s often a little intimidating to know where to start. Instead of manually winging it and trying to figure out what paperwork you need, which government and official bodies you need to approach and so forth, why not automate the process?