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Peter M.J. Gross

Peter M.J. Gross

Digital Footprints for ID Verification

Financial Institutions (FIs) are offering a larger number of online services for their clients, and they are facing a larger number of fraud attempts. After losing more than $10.24 billion in 2020, FIs have been compelled to improve their fraud detection strategies.

Demyst spoke with Gergő Varga, product evangelist at Seon, to discuss how external data can be used to go beyond basic anti-fraud checks. Varga explained how an individual’s online record of activity can be used like a digital footprint, which offers a more comprehensive approach to confirming identities. 

Criminals use stolen personal data to create synthetic identities that can pass basic fraud screening measures. Varga discussed how Seon’s data can improve fraud defenses by comparing an individual’s email address or phone number with existing profiles on the internet. 

Varga noted that email addresses and basic personal details are widely available on the dark web, which makes them less useful for verification. Although individual pieces of personal information are easier to acquire, it’s more difficult to fake an entire pattern of behavior. 

“Even if someone might be able to steal my identity, or my, you know, my personal information,” Varga said, “they will still not have my digital footprint, right?“

Seon checks 35 platforms — although Varga pointed out that this number has been increasing over time — to verify aspects of an individual’s digital footprint. “It basically gives you back how many of these platforms is this email and phone number registered on,” Varga said. “That becomes a very powerful first line of defense”

Opportunistic criminals, attempting to set up new accounts with stolen personal data, can be thwarted by checks that identify throwaway email addresses and burner phone numbers. “They want to scale the attack,” Varga said, “and they're going to give up trying to crack the system if they find it too difficult.

It’s like a digital version of Cinderella’s glass slipper. Someone else in her household might attempt to claim it, but her overall footprint is what will determine whether the owner’s identity is valid.  

Varga also discussed the difficulties of verifying identities in Africa and the Asia Pacific region, where existing data is less comprehensive

“The data might be stale, or it might be completely non-existent,” Varga said. He explained that Seon performs live lookups in these regions to confirm specific aspects of digital footprints. “If you see a sign-up attempt that's not registered on, like, the go-to messaging platform in that country,” he said, “that's obviously a bad signal.”

Companies can automate these checks for confirming basic account details, allowing them to reallocate resources for more exhaustive research with suspicious outliers. With the multi-source recipes available on the Demyst platform, companies can verify digital footprints and maximize the flexibility and efficiency of their fraud prevention efforts.

Contact Demyst to discuss boutique solutions that are customized to suit specific use cases, or create a free account and explore the thousands of data sources that are available on the Demyst platform. Learn how easy it can be to combine the strengths of multiple providers through a single API.

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