Identity Verification: Is Your Potential Employee Who They Say They Are?

Identity verification has taken on a new urgency for cybersecurity and IT teams in the new era of remote work. Confirming a person’s identity has been important since the advent of data privacy laws and the need to verify those requesting to see their personal data or the right to be forgotten—no company wanted to risk handing over data to the wrong person and risk identity theft. But now, as the pandemic continues to restrict in-person meetings and organizations still have many employees working remotely, the hiring process has taken on an unforeseen challenge: How do you know the person you are planning to onboard is who they say they are?

Identity Verification’s History

Identity verification was designed to ensure businesses would comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) laws. In the digital age, identity verification has become an important tool to help organizations prevent fraud and identity theft.

Move this concept to the hiring process. As everything is done virtually, it’s more difficult to get a good read on a person. It’s easier to hide behind a fake persona when you can’t meet face-to-face or when employees can’t interact with the new hire. While you think you might be interviewing a qualified candidate, what you might actually be doing is giving access into your company’s network to a cybercriminal or you are communicating with someone committing identity fraud.

Most Companies Interview Fraudulent Candidates

According to a recent white paper from Sterling Identity and HR Research Institute, 8 in 10 organizations believe they experienced employee or candidate identity fraud. In addition, HR professional worry about the quality and accuracy of employee and candidate ID data.

“Many HR professionals assume that their background provider verifies candidate identity as part of the screening process, but unfortunately this is not always the case. As organizations strive to create cultures built on trust and safety, establishing identity verification at the start of the screening and hiring process is critical now more than ever,” said Taylor Liggett, general manager of Sterling Identity, in a formal statement.

According to the white paper, 31% of organizations don’t even bother with a background check before hiring and wait until the candidate hands over documents and information to do their research.

“You cannot assume the identity information an employee gives you is accurate,” according the white paper. “If it is inaccurate, then your subsequent background check may be inaccurate. Implement an effective identity verification solution as part of your hiring practices to catch identity issues early in the process.”

Unprepared for Remote Onboarding

Nearly half of organizations taking part in a survey from Doodle admitted they aren’t prepared for a remote hiring and onboarding process. This means they also aren’t prepared to handle identity verification remotely.

The solution here is to use a third-party company that specializes in identification verification checks and to strengthen digital identification processes. As easy as it is to steal identity or create a fake digital persona, simply accepting documents and credentials without verification sets up the company for higher levels of insider threats as well as failure of compliance regulations.

“To get hired, candidates may present forged documentation, depicting fake certifications, so to curb these issues, digital identity verification becomes essential,” according to a ShuftiPro blog post. “Furthermore, if the potential employee is a scammer, their identity documents may be counterfeit, or worse, stolen.” This is all easier to do when forced to social distance and quarantine.

Digital biometrics and AI are the waves of the future for identity verification, especially in remote situations. “Facial verification and pattern recognition ensures that the image on the document and the original person’s face match,” according to the ShuftiPro blog.

And remember that identity verification is a team effort. HR may be in charge of the onboarding process, but it should work closely with cybersecurity and IT teams to ensure the right tools are used to detect and prevent fraud and to keep the networks and sensitive organizational data out of the hands of potential insider threat actors.

People hide behind digital identities all the time. It is necessary to make sure organizations are certain they know the true person on the other side of the webcam before any final hiring decisions are made.

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Sue Poremba

Sue Poremba is freelance writer based in central Pennsylvania. She's been writing about cybersecurity and technology trends since 2008.

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