How Blockchain is Making the World a Better Place

How Blockchain is Making the World a Better Place

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Verify identity: The whole world lives online now. Yes, that’s an exaggeration but we are gradually moving there. Every day millions of people connect with the internet to research, shop, comment and to pay bills. The more a person interacts online the more concrete their digital footprint. 

How Blockchain Can Resolve Identity Management Issues

What’s Wrong with Online Money Transaction?

Most online transactions require a person to give identification before proceeding. If you have purchased items on Amazon, used PayPal or Google Pay, you know the drill. Usually, these companies ask you to answer personal questions. 

Answering questions is not the problem, where they store them is.

Every time someone interacts with the internet this way, they leave that information on the web. Your digital identity creates clones on different platforms (wherever you interact), which is a security risk. Hacking of Equifax was one such episode where personal data was hacked. This event and many others expose how vulnerable the system is.

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How can Blockchain Help?

Blockchain offers security. It lets individuals and businesses create a peer to peer network. They can exchange information or currency through it. It also allows individuals to create digital identities or self-sovereign identities which are difficult to steal. 

What is so special about Blockchain? Democracy!

Master nodes are a possible solution to verify identity online. Master nodes democratically select a node to verify the user. Similarly, they can verify documents. Nodes are the soul of the blockchain.

There are three types of nodes;

  • Node: Send and receive transactions
  • Full node: Whatever the node does plus it keeps the copy of the entire chain
  • Master nodes: It has the power of the full node plus enables decentralized governance and budgeting. It’s the master.

Your Digital Identity is in Safe Hands with Blockchain

Blockchain basically creates your digital identity or a digital watermark that can be affixed to all your online transactions. Hence any unusual or suspicious transaction will not be approved since they won’t be wearing your digital watermark.

Blockchain not only secures your Verify identity but also helps secure the clones. Which means that you are more secure transacting online if it exists on the Blockchain. You get more freedom about your identity. The companies also get more control in who they approve or include in their blockchain network. 

Why You Need to Verify Identity Online

Why You Need to Verify Identity Online

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5 Unusual Ways Stolen Identities Can be Used Online

The need to verify identity in the digital space has arisen rapidly in the past few years. Here’s a scenario that will make it clear:

Imagine this you’re sitting at home relaxing and watching TV, suddenly there is a knock on the door and you ask who it is and you hear a voice that says, “Open up, this is the FBI”. Well, that would be something that would get your heartbeat racing. When you open the door to let them in and they speak to you and say that you are involved in suspicious activities related to a terrorist organisation. Now, that’s something to give you a heart attack especially if you have no idea what they are talking about. When you tell them exactly that, they show you your social media page. You look at it, see its your picture and your name, but you don’t recognise the cover picture or the multitude of posts that show your support for a popular terrorist group. That’s when you realise that your identity has been stolen and used to create this fake social media profile.

The case above is based on a true story that was a revenge scenario but still it is a crime. Although, social media sites are working towards KYC verification processes it still needs a lot of improvement before they can put an effective stop to such incidences.

As we proceed in this article we will look at five unusual ways stolen identities can be used online. This will make the case for the need to verify identity online. Some of the cases mentioned below have actually happened.

Free Airline Rides

Imagine this you have been accumulating bonus miles with your favourite airliner and then you see after a while that your miles have been utilised and that you have taken flights and upgrades that you never knew about. You check through the details and find out the address and other account details are changed. Well, guess what your identity has been stolen and the thief has changed the email to a fake one.  One would think that there would be an added layer of security, especially when you are about to make changes to your profile; like a system that would verify identity online.

Free Doctor Checkup

The Internet is a powerful medium where more and more businesses and service providers are turning to cater their customers and clients. For example, did you know you can get an online consultation with a medical doctor? Well, that is the case, a person started getting bills on his credit card for doctor consultations. I mean this is something you would remember, no? Somebody had impersonated him and using his credit card had had consultations with an online doctor. Eventually the impersonator was caught but the idea in itself was pretty new.

Getting Away with a Crime

Imagine you knew a secret about someone. You know that they would pay for something like that to go away. Yes, we’re talking about blackmail. There have been reported cases where a stolen identity was used to extort money. A fake bank account based on the victim’s identity was created and extorted money was transferred and used via cards made on the name of the stolen identity. If identity theft wasn’t a crime on its own they went on to go for extortion and blackmail as well. The awful part is, this was done online without the presence of any individual.

Profiting on Your Taxes

One person’s loss is another person’s gain. In this case loss of identity critical information such as your social security number to a stranger. This type although unusual is very much common. People use the stolen identity of a person including their social security number and use it to request a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Usually, if the IRS receives the fraudulent return before you file, the IRS will send your refund check to the first person in this case the identity thief. It is the thief who profits from the claim and the victim looses out on money. All this can be easily countered if there is a mechanism to verify identity easily.

Free Electricity

Identity thieves take advantage of people with good credit score to secure free electricity. Using a fake billing address, the stolen identity and financial details of the victim they apply online for a change of electricity service provider. As is with most companies they see the score and start supplying the electricity. The victim never realises that their information has been compromised until the collectors come knocking by that time the thief has already moved on to another victim. If only these online utility service providers would verify identity online.

How you can Verify Identity to Protect Yourself

Having mentioned some of the unusual ways that identity thieves use stolen identities we need to discuss upon the importance of keeping one’s information safe and secure:

As a general rule of thumb, do not give away information over websites unless you know them to be trustworthy and secure. Also, be aware of individuals representing government agencies and companies asking for your social security number over the phone. Do not give sensitive information over the phone.

Review your credit report at least quarterly.

Keep your Social Security number private.

If your information has been compromised, contact your bank, the companies in concern as well as the collection agencies and credit score companies. Contact your lawyer for further legal advice.

Inquire About Security Measures

Ask companies that store your personal and sensitive information regarding what security measures they have placed to prevent online identity theft and impersonation. Get two-step verification wherever there is an option. Financial institutions as well as utility bill providers that have online account opening services have the option of opting for third-party ID verifiers.  Such companies check for forgeries through live documentation checking and matching via their KYC verification process.

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Warning Signs of ICO Scams and the Role of Identity Verification Service

Warning Signs of ICO Scams and the Role of Identity Verification Service

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If you have heard of Bitcoins and cryptocurrencies then you must have heard of ICOs or Initial Coin Offerings. ICOs are the rave in the world of business financing; it is a game changer. The advent of the blockchain, the science behind cryptocurrencies, is what eventually led to the event that we call an ICO. Before that, businesses and individuals who wished to get financing for the fruition of their ideas had to go through long and complicated processes in order to qualify for venture capital investments or bank loans. The ICO allows one’s ideas to be crowdfunded with minimum or no time consuming paperwork. The ICO is the IPO (Initial Public Offering) without all the complications and paperwork and instead of Shares you get Coins. The problem arises since there aren’t many fraud prevention checks by governments and other regulatory bodies that are found with other financial platforms and mediums. We will look at the scale of these scams and we will discuss the various warning signs one should look out for when investing in an ICO. Also, we will see how ICOs that have an identity verification service or a digital KYC service have a lesser chance of  being a scam as compared to those without any such service.

The Scale of ICO Scams

In a recent report by Satis Group LLC an independent financial and wealth management company based in New York, USA, found that 80% of ICOs are scams and a small percent actually get their coins to the exchange for trading purposes. For example, OneCoin that worked on multilevel marketing or better known as a Ponzi scheme swindled investors out of US $350 Million that resulted in the arrest of those involved. LoopX ICO is another scam; the company and owners disappeared after scamming more than US $4 million from investors. In a more recent event, Centra ICO creators swindled people out of US $32 Million. The highlight is that this ICO was promoted by boxer Floyd Mayweather and some other celebrities.

ICO Scam Warning Signs

People invest in ICOs in order to get some profit ;as the company expands and improves, the value of the coin goes up and can be traded on various exchanges. Some companies even offer dividends to coin holders, similar to what one would expect from shares that they have purchased. Others offer discounts and other benefits to the coin holder. Whatever the payback we understand that having mentioned the scale of the ICO scams, one might think that there are no legit ICOs. Although fraud protection in this case is not fool proof there are always signs that tell something is not right. All this can be easily secured with a sound Identity Verification system. Lets take a look at these warning signs:

Open Source but An Empty Repository

If the actual ICO is based on a coin or token based on blockchain technology and the creators vouch that it is open-sourced. Then you should be able to see their source code. If none is available on their GitHub or other repository that should ring warning bells.

No Team or None Mentioned

A project especially as big as an ICO has a whole team behind the entire plan that includes developers, marketers and executives. If there are no team details mentioned on their website or if the team seems weak you should double check on the images of the members to see if the individuals have a social media presence or a LinkedIn profile. You should also be able to get in touch with the team members especially the blockchain developers.

The company should have a strong online presence especially on social media platforms.

No Digital KYC Solution or Identity Verification Service

Even though there isn’t a strong fraud prevention measure on ICOs. This is one of the most powerful indicators that an ICO owner is serious about sticking around. As there are certain policies that govern the entities that store the personal information of the general public. To be compliant with the such policies the ICO owners opt for a digital KYC (Know Your Customer) service that is usually provided by a 3rd-party. So this in itself is a good sign that they are investing in a service that helps make them know their customer and comply with the rules and regulations of personal data storage. Besides that, this shows that they plan on distributing their tokens to the investors as the identity verification service that they use also acts as a proof of purchase. To avoid any mishaps and misunderstandings this is an important step on the behalf of the company that is running the ICO.

No Whitepaper, Bad Whitepaper or a Copied One

Whitepapers speak the world about the ICO in concern. A missing white paper, a badly written one and a copied one are all sure shot warning signs. It shows poor planning or rushed planning with little or no research. If the Whitepaper is good, you should still do a plagiarism check. As Whitepapers by Scam ICOs are more or less copied usually word for word from other legit ICOs.

Guaranteed Profits

Another sign that should make you scrutinise the company in concern is if they say they are giving guaranteed profits. There is no such thing in the world of cryptos as you might have picked up by seeing how volatile the market is. If you haven’t you should do your research there as well. Such an ICO could very well be a MLM or Ponzi scheme that will not last very long and result in a loss at the end.

No Plan is Poor Plan

If the company running the ICO does not have a comprehensive roadmap of where and how they will proceed afterwards then do not invest. Because they are planning short term and do not foresee themselves doing anything afterwards. This is a very powerful indicator that they’re going to bail and leave the investors clueless as to what happened.

In Conclusion

Having mentioned the warning signs of ICO scams, as a disclaimer it must be said that there is no guaranteed way to judge the intention of an individual or company. Take reference to the Centra ICO scam the creators spent a lot of money on their promotional activity by hiring celebrities. The fact that some ICO would spend so much money gives the idea that it is legit. Until the time the governments and regulatory bodies implement fraud prevention measures in the industry, the chances of fraud are relatively high. However, a company that is willing to stick around would want to avoid being non-compliant with already existing policies. Therefore, their use of a third party digital KYC and identity verification service is usually a good indicator that the company is serious about its future and its investors’ money.

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