Preventing identity crime

Preventing identity crime

27 Jan 2023

Beruku Knowledge

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This informal CPD article on ‘Preventing identity crime’ was provided by Gavin Burton, co-founder of Beruku Knowledge, a training provider with a focus on identity fraud and identity document misuse.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw more products and services being delivered online than ever before. However, the regulatory requirements and business need to prove the identity of the people using them remained. Organisations from across many different industry types realised that the majority of identity verifications could be done online with a person's identity documents being either photographed, scanned or copied and being examined in ‘virtually’.

Whilst proving identity in an online environment can be convenient and cost effective this does come with risks. Many of the security features included in identity documents (such as passports, driving licences and national identity cards) to prevent counterfeiting are designed to be examined through touch or under specific light conditions in an ‘in person’ environment.

Also, the world doesn’t stand still, even for COVID. Identity document designs are constantly being updated and released across the world, as a result there are potentially hundreds of different document and issue types in circulation causing confusion for anyone involved in examining these. For example, there are at least three ordinary UK passport types that are currently valid and in circulation, but these all have very different printing designs and security features. This can prove to be a challenge for anyone examining documents whether they be virtually or in a face-to-face scenario.

Identity crime

Identity crime can be summed up as the creation of a false identity or the assumption of someone else’s identity in order to perpetrate a criminal offence.

It is also an unfortunate fact that the law enforcement response to identity crime in the UK is quite fragmented and not necessarily a policing priority in itself. This is partly due to the cross-cutting nature that a false identity or false identity document can have; they can be used to enable a number of different offences, which can include:

  • fraud
  • illegal working
  • organised immigration crime
  • money laundering
  • modern slavery
  • drug trafficking
Preventing identity risks for organisations

The impact for organisations

There can be significant implications to organisations that do not adequately check someone’s identity documents. Some organisations and industries will also be at more risk of seeing false identity documents than others. Those high-risk industries will no doubt draw more attention from law enforcement agencies than others.

For example, employers in the UK have an obligation to check a prospective employee's identity document prior to them starting work. Failure to conduct an adequate ‘Right to work’ check involving the checking of a person’s identity document can leave an employer facing a civil penalty of £10,000 per illegal worker. Knowingly employing an illegal worker is a criminal offence. There is not just the financial impact for an organisation to consider, there is also the damage to the reputation of the employer, their brand, and the operational impact of any loss of staff at short notice if they have been arrested for using a false identity document.

Preventing identity document misuse

An organisation should be aware that if they perform identity verification in their business processes, they may encounter false identity documents at some point. Although technology is being used by many to validate identity documents there are many organisations where it is preferable for staff to perform manual identity checks. Adequate periodic training and awareness of the wider identity related threats that are posed should be built into operational processes to prevent an organisation falling victim to identity crime.

Ultimately, being proactive when it comes to identity crime will help an organisation identify and mitigate the threats that are posed by the use of false identity documents. Intelligence sharing can also be a part of this, whether this is through government liaison or industry groups where it is safe to share information.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Beruku Knowledge, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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Beruku Knowledge

Beruku Knowledge

For more information from Beruku Knowledge, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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