Insights & Analyses

Alabama combats identity theft with America’s first statewide protection program

February 14, 2018

The Alabama Department of Revenue has partnered with French identity security company IDEMIA on a new “Alabama eID” program, looking to protect residents against state income tax refund theft.

The Alabama eID program began in 2017 in a pilot phase. After a successful trial, the state has officially launched the new app, which is the first-ever statewide identity protection program.

Citizens can now download the official Alabama eID app for Apple’s iPhone and Google Android. Users must complete a a short registration process to verify their identity, by scanning a driver’s license or state-issued ID, and taking a selfie.

The data shared is compared against the information and photograph stored in the state’s driver’s license and identification card database, and is used to verify that the user is who they claim to be.

The new app launches just in time for tax season in the U.S., when incidents of fraud escalate and innocent taxpayers get conned out of refunds. It allows users to engage in secure online transactions, such as applying for benefits and securing tax returns.

The app and service are a result of the partnership between the state’s Department of Revenue and IDEMIA, formerly known as OT-Morpho.

“The app brings the highest level of security with a simple user interface to create the leading edge technology in protecting state income tax refunds,” said Ed Casey, Chief Executive Officer, IDEMIA Identity & Security North America. “The technology’s unique ability is its secure link to the identity verification process residents underwent to receive their Alabama driver’s license or state ID. This authenticated connection between digital identity and physical identity is what ensures only you can claim your state income tax refund.”

The Alabama eID program is free, in an effort to mitigate tax fraud. After creating an eID, users can register it with the Alabama Department of Revenue.

“We’re proud Alabama is leading the nation in securing taxpayer identities against state income tax fraud,” said Vernon Barnett, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Revenue. “Not only will we protect taxpayers against criminals, taxpayers who use the Alabama eID app will also receive priority processing of their refund.”

Tax fraud is a problem across the U.S. On a national level, the Internal Revenue Service’s efforts to squash identity theft stopped $1.1 billion in tax fraud in 2016 alone.