In the world of identity theft, every layer of protection that consumers can employ to block a criminal’s tactics can help. Now, the state of Arizona is addressing those layers by incorporating facial recognition software in the application process for driver’s licenses and identification cards.
The days of cutting the laminate to replace the picture on a fake ID may be behind us for the most part, but the fraud associated with driver’s licenses is far from over. What this initiative hopes to accomplish is to replace the human-error factor in comparing old pictures in the system to the new ones that applicants take now. It’s all too easy to use forged or stolen birth certificates in order to get a driver’s license, but this software will compare the photographs taken today with the older photos that have been stored under that person’s real name. This will help employees more readily verify that the person applying or renewing is the same individual whose photo has been taken in the past, and not a criminal trying to steal their identity.
Ideally, this initiative will catch thieves in the act of attempting to gain photo credentials, but a secondary hope is that it will lead ID thieves not to even attempt it in the first place. If they know the computer system will reject their attempts—and hopefully lead to an arrest for fraud on the spot—it could curtail the forgery or theft of documents in the first place. For now, though, an application that is flagged as a potential mismatch will simply go to review; if it’s determined that the software is not wrong in claiming a mismatch, the application will be turned over to the state’s Inspector General.
Besides the protection it offers citizens and the workload relief on employees of the state’s Motor Vehicle Division, this initiative also lets Arizona implement some of the voluntary measures that were outlined in the REAL ID Act of 2005. Complete implementation of the Act has been delayed by Homeland Security due to several states’—including Arizona—inability to comply with all of the necessary measures. When the full implementation is in place, citizens will be required to have identification that meets the REAL ID standards for things like working in sensitive government positions and commercial air travel; incorporating these security steps in the driver’s license process is helpful in streamlining the proof of ID process for travelers.