Balding, weight gain, and other challenges in anti-impersonation checks

Officials may be able to verify the authenticity of an identification card, but knowing for sure that the person holding the card is who they claim to be isn’t quite as simple — especially if their physical appearance has changed since the ID’s photo was captured.

In that respect, common life occurrences like weight gain or balding present major obstacles for anti-impersonation checks. Those are just two of the challenges faced by Au10Tix, a secure customer onboarding vendor for Google, PayPal, and governments across the globe.

Ron Atzmon, managing director for Au10Tix, said the issue becomes even more complicated when factoring in different standards for ID cards across the globe. In Europe, the requirements vary by country, and in the U.S. it’s a state-by-state basis.

“From a business point of view, it’s very difficult,” Atzmon told One World Identity’s Cameron D’Ambrosi on the State of Identity podcast.

As governments look to modernize their identification methods with so-called “second-generation” ID cards, change is slow to take, because officials are reluctant to make wholesale changes. While some countries, such as the U.K., have embraced a forward thinking approach, other nations, like Germany, remain rooted in established methods.

Atzmon noted that German citizens cannot open a bank account online, and are required to go into a local post office in order to verify their identity. Even then, the best that a post office official can do is scan the ID to verify it’s authentic, then use their own eyes to compare the photo on the ID to the person wielding it.

It’s far from a perfect system — especially if the appearance of the person looking to be identified has changed dramatically since the ID was issued.

“It is still a human being that is in this equation, for good and for worse,” Atzmon said.

To hear more, listen to Atzmon on the State of Identity podcast and subscribe to the show on iTunes.