An identity verification service is used by businesses to ensure that users or customers provide information that is associated with the identity of a real person. The service may verify the authenticity of physical identity documents such as a drivers license or passport, called documentary verification, or may verify identity information against authoritative sources such as a credit bureau or government data, called non-documentary verification.
Identity verification service is used both online and in person to verify identity. These services are used by some social networking sites, Internet forums, dating sites and wikis to stop sockpuppetry, underage signups, spamming and illegal activities like harassment, scams, and money laundering. These services are required to establish bank accounts and other financial accounts in many jurisdictions.
In financial industries, verifying identity is often required by regulation known as Know Your Customer or Customer Identification Program (CIP). In the US, one of the many bodies regulating these procedures is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
A non-documentary identity verification requires the user or customer to provide personal identity data which is sent to the identity verification service. The service checks public and private databases for a match on the information provided. Optionally, knowledge-based authentication questions can be presented to the person providing the information to ensure that he or she is the owner of the identity. An identity "score" is calculated, and the identity of the user or customer is either given the "verified" status, or not, based on the score.