In a widely reported recent case of fraud, a group of council Benefits Assessors used fake identities to create a string of bogus housing benefit claims in a number of London Boroughs, stealing around £1m. Identity theft is now being described by David Birch, author and advisor on digital financial services, as at epidemic proportions, and identity verification processes at some organisations in the UK have not kept up with either technological or social change. This is particularly true in areas like housing benefit; when we stop and reflect on how Councils verify identity for housing benefit claims we see that some of the guidance still referred to is now approaching 20 years old. If there’s one take away message about fraud, it is that it’s a constantly evolving threat.
Physical documents are becoming increasingly easier to forge, with one UK newspaper reporting that false identity paperwork used by immigrants coming to the UK, which once cost £4,000 in the Calais Jungle, is now being sold for around £300_. Yet guidance still talks about the need for paper documentation, and electronic identity checking is nowhere to be seen. Old fashioned paper based identity checking is expensive as it generates high volumes of customer contacts, with claimants queuing in Customer Services units up and down the country clutching their passports and utility bills.
It is costs like these that councils are looking for new and innovative ways to drive down, as services are feeling the pinch from ever reducing funding. What if it were possible to improve the customer experience and increase operational efficiency by using electronic identity checking services which can approve genuine customers and accurately highlight fraudulent applications?
Callcredit’s Fraud and ID products have grown from necessity due to the Financial Services industry’s legal requirements, particularly a need to comply with Anti Money Laundering regulations. Our set of solutions comprises sophisticated modules which can be deployed to address specific threats. Callcredit already provide Fraud & ID solutions to a wide range of sectors including; banking, retail, insurance and Central Government.
In housing benefit, a claimant is required by primary legislation to supply a National Insurance Number and that is checked by the council against the DWP’s Customer Information System (CIS). Any additional identity requirements are defined by the individual council. Allowing claimants to validate their identity electronically can ease those queues whilst enabling stronger digital checks which can identify if the nominated bank account doesn’t match the identity of the claimant or if the presented identity, or even the same bank details, have been used in multiple other applications in a very short space of time – a likely indicator of identity theft. This, coupled with other elements like Knowledge Based Authentication, means that councils can improve operational efficiency, and still secure the gateway to benefit.
We’re working with customers to update their ID verification processes and deliver better outcomes for both they and their citizens. CallValidate, our unique, comprehensive and robust Customer ID verification tool, is simple to implement and operate either as a web service or an API. Whether it’s Housing Benefit, Local Council Tax Support or any other application based process, councils can transform the customer journey by updating their fraud and ID strategy to include electronic identity verification.
For more information on how CallValidate can strengthen your ID strategy contact Business Consultant James Rawlins
To see how fraud professionals are taking the fight back to the fraudsters, download your copy of our 2017 Fraud and Risk Report by clicking here.