Businesses Can Do More to Tackle Billion-Dollar Identity Fraud
Wellington, 16 November 2017 – Local businesses can do more to tackle identify fraud that is costing the country more than $1 billion a year .
More than 300,000 Kiwis have had their identities stolen in the past year, with just under half suffering financial loss
And while consumer campaigns have raised awareness of scams and steps consumers should take to safeguard personal
information, businesses continue to be dogged by fraud.
NZ Post’s RealMe® Business Development Manager, David Roberts, said while most businesses collected and checked identity
information supplied by customers, it wasn’t enough to close the door on fraudsters.
“Collecting customer identity information validates the existence of an identity, but it fails to link the identity to
the person claiming to be its owner. So, for example, someone can use stolen documents to create a false identity to use
for illegal gains,” he said.
RealMe’s AML-compliant online identity verification service solves the problem, without burdening people with extra
paperwork and form filling.
Jointly developed by New Zealand Post and the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), RealMe® provides significantly
increased assurance that the person is who they are claiming to be, thanks to a secure technology layer that verifies
customer identities from the original authoritative source.
Together with government agencies and private sector organisations, including ANZ, BNZ, Kiwi-coin, OM Financial, Secured
Signing and StudyLink, RealMe user accounts are growing by over 10,000 a month. Based on current trends, Roberts expects
500,000 customers to be using RealMe by mid-2018.
He said potential changes to anti-money laundering legislation in 2018 were likely to accelerate adoption of identity
verification, particularly in financial and legal services, and property and real estate – sectors still heavily reliant
on paper-based processes to verify the signatures on agreements and documents.
“Businesses in these sectors are ripe for online services that digitise paperwork and workflow, paving the way for
robust identity verification,” he said.
The technology offered additional spinoffs, with academic research on psychology and behavioural economics showing a
correlation between the introduction of verification systems and more honest behaviour, said Roberts.
“We’re suggesting that someone who asserts their identity with RealMe is more likely to make honest statements – and
therefore less likely to lodge a fraudulent claim,” he said. “No small deal when you consider global figures that show
one in 10 new insurance accounts as fraudulent.”