June 10th, 2021 | Taylor Liggett, General Manager, Sterling Identity

Sterling + ID.me, a Game Changing Partnership that Puts Identity First

Sterling & Background Checks

Background screening companies like Sterling play an increasingly important role in the rapidly evolving world of digital identity. More than 40,000 clients depend on Sterling to help them create environments of trust and safety, relying on us to deliver hundreds of millions of data points related to individual workers each year. This activity is deeply rooted in identity, which makes getting identity right of paramount importance.

But what does it mean to get identity right? First, it means collecting accurate candidate identity data before screening, since missing or incorrect data can negatively affect the background screening process. Many companies don’t realize that something as simple as an incorrect or misspelled name, or a mistyped birthdate, can throw off screening, so the benefit of getting identity right can literally mean the difference between catching or missing important information. Getting identity right also means giving employers a high degree of confidence that they’re hiring the person they think they’re hiring. According to an Enterprise Technology Research survey, the percentage of workers permanently working remotely post-pandemic is expected to double from 16.4% to 34.4%. While this presents an opportunity to expand your hiring pool substantially—and therefore find the best candidate for a position—it also introduces a hurdle to overcome. When someone joining your organization lives far away, verifying their identity and capturing accurate biographic data enables confident decisions that help to create a safe work environment, maintain customer trust, and uphold a strong brand reputation.

Sterling and ID.me Team Up

In the United States, candidate identity is rarely checked before background screening or the post-hire I-9 process. With verification occurring so late in the hiring process, how can employers feel confident in the identity the background check is predicated on? As a screening provider, we’ve seen first-hand the ramifications of not confirming identity as a first step before hire. From uncovering active identity fraud rings to witnessing the impact of missed records due to incorrect biographic data, we’ve seen how identity verification can play a critical role in creating safer workplaces.

With this in mind, Sterling spent the last few years exploring a variety of verification and data gathering approaches and options to strengthen identify verification. This eventually (some would say inevitably) led us to ID.me, whose ability to deliver both fast and convenient digital identity verification and quality biographic data is unrivaled. We could not be more excited about our recently announced partnership with ID.me, and the value it brings to employers, workers, and the employment space as a whole. Our exclusive partnership with ID.me will transform the background screening industry. Let’s take a closer look at how identity verification works.

Multiple Paths to Successful Verification

In our early work with a diverse set of employers, we quickly discovered that a single identity verification solution cannot fit all needs. An ID document verification and selfie comparison, for example, while convenient and often fast, can present a challenge to someone with a worn, missing, or newly issued ID. By including more than one proof point with appropriate failovers in the ID verification process, candidates can successfully verify their identity. Alternatively, some employers—by policy or due to regulation— require multiple candidate identity verification proof points. To enable successful identity verification, especially for employment, employers need a versatile set of options. That’s where our partnership with ID.me comes in.

We are thrilled to bring to the US market a solution that incorporates different, but linked, identity verification methods to help candidates seamlessly and successfully verify their identity.

Telecom and Device Verification

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 96% of American adults own a cell phone. With this in mind, the first identity verification method incorporates telecom and device verification, which has the potential to be the most widely convenient verification option. With telecom and device verification, using the SIM card found in cell phones, we verify the cell phone holder’s identity, location, account tenure, and fraud history. This process is similar to multi-factor authentication, where a text message containing a unique code is sent to a user’s cell phone. This typically happens smoothly and is normally completed in mere seconds. ID.me has designed this leading-edge process to replace older and far less reliable Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA) solutions.

Document and Facial Verification

The rise in shared data plans and the convenience of inexpensive prepaid phones, however, means that telecom and device verification cannot be relied upon alone. When individuals use unregistered prepaid phones, or a phone registered under the name of another family member or friend, document and facial verification can serve as an alternative identity proof point.

During a document verification process, candidates take a picture of their government-issued ID document. ID.me uses machine vision, proprietary rules, a rich document library, and AI to determine authenticity of ID documents. ID.me has a fast median response time per document of 0.9 seconds versus 12.4 seconds for competitors. It’s a quick and easy way for candidates to verify their identity.

Facial verification is an additional verification method that can be paired with document verification. Once the candidate takes a photo of their ID document, they take a quick selfie to verify the document photo matches the selfie image. Document verification and/or facial verification is a simple process that can be completed in a matter of minutes.

Today, approximately 97% of ID.me users successfully verify their identity quickly and easily using telecom and device verification or document verification.

SSN Verification

SSN verification is yet another tool that compares a candidate’s social security number and other identifying information (such as name and address) against credit bureau records. Many mistakenly believe that an SSN trace is verifying candidate identity. This is simply not the case. An SSN trace does not verify that a number is associated with a specific candidate or employee. In addition, collecting and verifying SSN information for candidates upfront can improve the performance and results of an SSN trace conducted further on in the hiring process.

Live Video Chat ID Proofing

For individuals that may require additional assistance or who are unable to provide other proof points, live video chat ID proofing is available. During this process, individuals will complete identity proofing with a trained, trusted referee via video conferencing. ID.me is the only identity provider who offers this service, and it is foundational to their motto “no identity left behind.”

With multiple paths to successful verification, we help provide employers with packages that align to their individual risk tolerance and organizational needs.

The Intersection of Identity and Background Screening

The future of the background screening industry relies on getting identity right, collecting more accurate candidate data, and verifying it right up front in the hiring process. The recent explosive growth in remote work makes the situation more urgent.

As the economy restarts and industries ramp back up to full operational capacity, identity verification can help employers gain confidence in the identities of individuals to help create safer workplaces. For individuals, a powerful identity verification platform that puts them in control, saves time and enhances security and trust.

Portable Identity is the Future

Identity verification does not need to be transactional. Many organizations require individuals to verify their identity each time they enter into a new digital transaction. Whether that is opening up a new bank account, signing into a secure website, or completing a background check application, individuals are tasked with repeating the identity verification process at every turn.

Simply put, this doesn’t need to be the case. ID.me has created a more efficient, less intrusive system that – when applied to the employment space – can revolutionize hiring practices. ID.me’s digital identity wallet requires individuals to verify their identity just once and then securely stores it for reuse across an ever-expanding ecosystem of governments, organizations, and corporations that comprise the ID.me secure digital identity network. For Sterling, this functionality is a game changer in combination with our suite of services, allowing us to collectively offer powerful new and exciting solutions in the employment space benefiting both employers and individuals.

Sterling Identity Verification powered by ID.me will be available during the second quarter of 2021. Get in touch today to learn more about the best identity verification solution to fit your needs.

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.