Features: February 11th, 2005

Countering Identify Theft and Fraud

As more public services go on line the scope for exploiting identity theft and fraud increases. At the same time developments in technology are providing increasing safeguards to counter the work of fraudsters. The wealth of information held on a variety of databases is available to those with a legitimate need to authenticate identity and verify an address. The pool of information gives public sector organizations the ability to accurately identify and authenticate individuals and to trace their whereabouts. The opportunity to do this has become even more important with the introduction of online services and greater commercial accountability. The launch of eTrail by Equifax has brought the public sector a new powerful online information system to help it authenticate and locate individuals and, in doing so, reduce ID theft, fraud and bad debt.

With instant access to records of more than 45 million adults in the UK, and 24-hour instant access to a comprehensive range of information, eTrail allows public sector users to significantly improve the way they work. The enhanced identity and address verification processes available through eTrail serve as a valuable tool in combating ID fraud by enabling public sector staff to verify address information and process applications, quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, this system provides a vital investigations and revenue recovery tool.

With information derived from a number of sources including the Electoral Roll, Registry Trust and Equifax’s own database of over 300 million credit agreements, Equifax is the most powerful consumer information source in the UK. eTrail utilises this data source, which in combination with sophisticated web based technology, can provide critical information on individuals within seconds.

The menu-based format allows the user to easily navigate through the system and it allows investigation and revenue recovery systems to be automated and processes to be streamlined.

From verification to investigation

eTrail can accelerate fraud and criminal investigations through instant access to a wide range of investigation and identity reports accessible under Section 29 of the Data Protection Act (Crime and Taxation). It also aids legal proceedings, both criminal and civil, through online investigation and tracing reports accessible under Section 35 of the Data Protection Act (Disclosures made by law or in connection with legal proceedings).

It can facilitate the collection of revenues through risk assessment and tracing reports and reduce loss of revenue and financial fraud through instantaneous fraud and ID validations. eTrail also strengthens identity and residency vetting and enable documents to be issued with greater confidence through unique ID and residency checks and automate means testing and eligibility assessment through immediate financial appraisal. In addition, eTrail complies with best practice procedures and meets regulatory directives through employee vetting and anti-money laundering searches.

eTrail enables public sector workers to:

  • Investigate individuals under Sections 29 and 35 of the Data Protection Act
  • Prove residency
  • Confirm identity
  • Detect fraud
  • Identify financially linked associates and family members
  • Ascertain who lives at an address
  • Determine an address history
  • Validate accuracy of key information supplied by individuals
  • Assess financial status
  • Establish previous court action
  • Assess ability to pay
  • Trace absconders
  • Vet employees
  • Recover revenue

Workers are also provided access to an expert knowledge base 24 hours a day, minimising the need for operator training. The network connectivity can be achieved using any TCP/IP connection utilising Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption for added security, this includes access over the Internet from any PC that has an industry standard browser. Configurable access can be given to any combination of reports or restricted to prevent unauthorised use and most importantly eTrail is fully compliant with all relevant legislation.

A unique reference number is generated for each report accessed which, combined with online database storage, assists with fast application retrieval at a later date and negates the need for cross referencing. There are a number of connectivity options available including secure access via the Internet. eTrail can be customised to enable integration into existing front-end data capture application, removing the need for double keying. Menu options are parametised per user, enabling restricted access to unauthorised reports. eTrail can also be tailored to include, integrate with or validate against other data sources, and include decisioning technologies such as decision trees and rule based logic.

A trusted custodian of consumer data, Equifax has an established history of providing secure and compliant solutions to the public sector. The development of eTrail is part of Equifax’s commitment to help government staff stay up to date with legislation, enhance efficiency and assist the public sector as it strives to maintain and develop new levels of best practice procedures.

Further information about eTrail is available from the Equifax Government Services team on 020 7298 3000 or e-mail governmentuk@equifax.com