Detecting Fraud at client onboarding: How TripleCheck mitigates identity fraud and impersonation

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Identity fraud is a growing issue in the US; a recent report from GIACT* found that 47% of US consumers have experienced identity theft in the past two years, and well over a third - 37% - have been victim to application fraud.

The pandemic has exacerbated the problem even further; figures released by the Federal Trade Commission** found that identity theft reports were up to a staggering 1.4 million in 2020, that is more than double 2019’s figure of 650,523 and more than triple the 444,344 cases in 2018.

In terms of cost, 37% of consumers who filed a report said they had lost money as result of the identity fraud, up from 23% in 2019. Overall, consumers lost $3.3bn to ID fraud in 2020, up from $1.8bn in 2019.

And while identity fraud clearly has grave consequences for the individual victim, it can also be detrimental to the financial institution who failed to spot it.

GIACT’s research reveals “serious consumer dissatisfaction” with the way financial institutions deal with identity fraud once it has occurred, with more than half (56%) of those whose identity had been stolen saying they were unlikely to do any future business with the financial institution at fault. 

And this is perhaps understandable when you consider that, in many cases, even when the fraudster had succeeded in using someone else’s identity to open an account, or take out a credit card or loan, in a third of cases it was the victim that spotted the fraud and not the financial institutions. In fact, GIACTs research reveals that less than a quarter of financial institutions notified the victim when they discovered their ID had been stolen.

Identity fraud is getting harder to spot

Identity fraud has become significantly more sophisticated over the past few years, and with more and more transactions now moving online, many financial institutions are struggling to ensure their compliance and Customer Identification Programs keep pace, leaving them even more vulnerable.

The fact that cases of identity fraud have rocketed over the past simply highlights how important it is for businesses and financial institutions to put measures in place now to mitigate identity fraud.

And while many anti-fraud programs focus on monitoring transactions for anything suspicious, the most reliable way to deal with the problem is to prevent the identity fraud from happening in the first place.

Detect identity fraud at client onboarding

Under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), all US financial institutions need to have a risk based anti-money laundering program in place, which includes proper due diligence and KYC via a Customer Identification Program (CIP), and it is this CIP that is the key.

Most identity theft happens either when the details on the ID (passport, driving license, social security card) are not those of a legitimate person, or, when the ID is legitimate, but the person providing it is a not the real owner of that identity.

That is why it is vital that the initial identification verification process checks for three key things. Firstly, that the customer information is legitimate- i.e. the details provided are that of a real person, secondly, that the details have been used together before to open accounts or for any other financial products, and thirdly, that the person providing the ID, and the ID itself match. It is only then, when you are sure that the customer is legitimate, that you can start screening and running full customer due diligence checks to see if that person poses a risk to the business.

The only way you can be sure your customers are who they say they are is to use a robust Customer Identification Program for onboarding. There are now options to take this Program entirely online and run the person’s details through a system that can check consumer reporting agencies and other sources to accurately verify the details.

Additionally, access to facial recognition software that can assess the photo on the ID and the real person to confirm that they are one in the same will only bolster your processes. Plus, checks on the email and cell number provided by the customer confirm if they are legitimate, have not been involved in anything suspicious, and were not fakes, set up simply to open the account.

There is a solution on the market that can do all of this in one workflow. TripleCheck, from SmartSearch is a three-stage process that combines identification, verification and screening for sanctions, PEPs, SIPs and RCAs, with the latest in biometric, facial recognition and liveness technology and data triangulation to produce the most robust anti-ID fraud check you will ever need.

By running a TripleCheck on all customers at the onboarding stage, you can be sure they are who they say they are, mitigating ID fraud and ensuring no time is wasted running enhanced due diligence on the wrong person.

What’s more, SmartSearch’s ongoing monitoring ensures customers are not only identified, verified and screened at the onboarding stage, but that they are continually monitored and validated throughout the customer relationship to ensure full compliance at all times.

To find out more about how TripleCheck can mitigate identity fraud and impersonation, visit




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