Biases in Identity Verification Software Solutions

Usage of a fake ID to purchase age-restricted goods or gain access to clubs or bars has continued to climb. And these fake IDs are not only becoming easier to get, they work. According to a survey by Greenhouse Treatment, 77% of respondents said their fake IDs worked at least one time. And for 20% of respondents, their fake ID worked on a regular basis– passing ID checks at least once a week.

As businesses continue to work to catch fake IDs and verify identities to stay compliant, training staff what to look for when checking an ID is more than just looking for the birthdate and security features. It’s also about making sure that staff don’t make decisions based on their own confirmation biases.

What is confirmation bias?

Confirmation bias occurs when we only look at the information that supports our existing beliefs. For example, if someone appears to be underage so a bouncer rejects their ID on that basis even if their ID is legitimate. Or a business accepting an ID from someone who they perceive as “trustworthy” because they are from the same age, gender, or racial group as themselves– even if there are concerns that the ID is legitimate.

Confirmation bias can also affect whether or not employees will check IDs altogether. A group of beverage consultant inspectors in 18 states across the country were surveyed, and they found that 60% of the nightclubs and bars they inspected never checked customer IDs at all.

Confirmation bias can cause employees to ignore information that challenges their beliefs, and can potentially result in decision-making that could harm your business.

ID verification software solutions

Many businesses have turned to identity verification software solutions to improve their customer experience and make verifying IDs more secure and reliable– and not to specifically combat confirmation bias. However, ID verification software isn’t just a way to deter fraud and help keep your business compliant. It can also be a way to help automate a process that is so susceptible to bias.

Relying on the right technology, however, can be difficult. And with concerns that facial recognition software has its own biases, how can you be sure the solution you’re picking won’t make the situation worse?

How does an ID verification software solution work?

At its most basic level, an ID verification software solution is a way for potential customers to verify their identity using their phone. One way is for someone to use an unexpired government-issued photo ID– typically a state ID, license, or passport– alongside a real-time selfie taken at different angles. After the ID verification solution collects this information, they’ll typically route it either to an individual who is tasked with comparing the picture on the ID with the selfies provided, or back to their server where their software completes a similar analysis. The entire process can take anywhere from a few minutes to hours, depending on how the solution chooses to verify.

Bias in ID verification software solutions

Many ID verification software solutions rely on one of two things: a human behind a screen to manually verify someone’s ID or facial recognition technology. Both of these processes can introduce potential bias into the ID check process.

When you’re vetting ID verification solutions, it’s important to look for a solution that only compares the images that are provided by the customer– and doesn’t rely on facial recognition the way it’s usually implemented. This means that the ID verification solution should only compare the individual’s real-time selfies and the image on their provided photo ID.

Another key point to look for: does the ID verification solution create their own software or do they rely on someone else’s? There are many different types of ID verification solutions out there– but very few of them are actually responsible for developing and maintaining the technology that verifies IDs. Some solutions will be upfront that they work with different software providers to help you verify IDs, but others won’t be so forthcoming. No matter what solution you choose, ask what methods they implement in their process and software to help combat bias.

What does this mean for my business?

Like any technology, an identity verification software solution isn’t perfect. Solutions that rely on manual review run the risk of making decisions using the same biases you’re trying to avoid– while taking even longer than if you had just had your employees check IDs at the counter. Additionally, not every ID verification company will make ensuring their solution isn’t exhibiting biases a priority. 

At Berbix, we combine off-the-shelf technologies and our own, home-grown solution, to verify IDs. Our instant and automated ID verification process relies on matching an individual’s photo ID with their provided selfies, and we track our ID rejection and acceptance rates and perform regular audits.

As you look for the ID verification solution that’s right for you, make sure you’re asking the right questions to choose a solution that won’t do more harm than good to your business.