Where Background Checks And Identity Verification Are Headed

August 18th, 2023

From digital wallets to secure hiring: The evolution of identity verification 


  • The foundation of reliable background checks lies in the meticulous verification of candidate identities.
  • Overlooking errors in candidate information can have significant consequences, leading to flawed background check outcomes.
  • Incorporating identity verification early on guards against the escalating threat of identity fraud, which has resulted in staggering financial losses.
  • A diverse range of identity verification solutions, such as telecom and device verification, offer robust options for establishing candidate authenticity.
  • The criticality of verifying candidate identities cannot be understated, as it safeguards against various forms of workplace fraud and aligns with the growing trend of remote hiring practices. 

Employers are competing for top talent while balancing ever-evolving regulations, new types of work, and workplace risk. To meet hiring demands and provide a safe environment for employees, customers, and partners, identity verification as part of the background check is an integral part of the hiring process.

Identity Verification in Hiring: What Recruiters Need to Know

Let’s break down the difference between identity verification and background screening.  It’s a common misconception that identity verification is included in a routine criminal background check. A criminal background check is dependent on candidates providing accurate identifying information at the beginning of the process, such as their Social  Security number, name, and date of birth. Errors, whether they are accidental or intentional,  can potentially go undetected and lead to incorrect background check results.

Incorporating an identity verification step early in the hiring process, before Form I-9,  allows clients to conduct a more accurate search with the correct identity information and protect against rising identity fraud; fraud losses in 2021 amounted to $5.8+ billion. At the most basic level, identity verification assesses whether the candidate is truthfully representing themselves.

There are multiple identity verification solutions available including verification via telecom and device, document and facial recognition, biographic data, live video chat ID proofing, and portable identity.

In today’s environment, a person may be hired and onboarded without ever meeting anyone in-person, so verifying the identity of a candidate is a vital step in the hiring process.  2020 was a catalyst for digital identity verification and innovation in tandem with the shift to remote work and the rise in identity fraud.

A few examples of fraud in the workplace include candidates hiding something from their background to get a job, such as a criminal record, and candidates hiring another person to do an interview for them or pass an assessment test when they are underqualified for the position. Another example of employee fraud is a candidate claiming to be someone else in the hiring process to gain access to a company’s proprietary systems, customer information, and software, which can put a company and its clients at risk. 

Why Every Employer Needs to Invest in Identity Verification

Hiring challenges will continue to drive organizations to update their processes and invest in technology improvements to make hiring programs more efficient and engaging for job seekers. A recent survey of more than 1,200 HR and staffing professionals found that 89% of respondents are actively investing in new technology to streamline the candidate experience and automate hiring.  

Identity verification provides a better candidate experience by minimizing the amount of manual data collection, accelerating the screening process to deter candidate drop-off, and allowing verification to be completed remotely. By modernizing the hiring process, HR staff can use time formerly spent on manual tasks to focus on their candidate experience journey and engage in meaningful touchpoints.

Automation Meets Verification

There is a shift from transactional, one-time identity verification to a network-based,  portable digital identity. The promise of a reusable digital identity is exciting. It means that individuals can go through the verification once and be able to reuse it in different instances, such as government applications, business forms, and employment. This process removes friction without reducing the level of security.

Think of using digital wallets to apply for jobs like having TSA PreCheck to go through airport security. Once completed, the process is expedited. Rather than candidates having to spend time reverifying credentials such as a college degree or re-enter their information each time they apply for a new job, they can share items from their digital wallet with a  potential employer.

Once their information is verified, they can choose the data they share with potential employers, government agencies, and businesses. This brings privacy-preserving principles where individuals have control over their own information.

Digital Identity Isn’t Just for Hiring

In general, people are becoming more familiar with digital identity verification, not only in applying for jobs but also with personal tasks like opening a bank account or booking an  Airbnb. According to our research, it takes 30 seconds on average for candidates to complete the pre-verified process and 90 seconds to complete a new identity verification process.

As technology advances and more organizations adopt digital identity in their workflows, more attributes can be verified and stored on an individual’s digital wallet.  Hiring strategies and processes will continue to evolve to keep pace with technology and candidate experience.

This article was originally published on HR.com.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

Let's Connect

Have questions, need more info, or want to chat background screening solutions? We’re here for you. Click the option that best describes you.

Job candidate? Click here