Portrait painted with fluorescent makeup that glows under the ultraviolet light. UV light is one of the security features for securing documents.
#Identity Technology

One step ahead of the forgers

Global Trends
6 Mins.

The illegal trade in forged and doctored identities enables global criminal activity, and nowadays counterfeiters can fake nearly all kinds of feature combinations. So what can be done to protect against the increase in identity fraud? Governments need to invest in technical innovations that can provide a clever mix of secure, reliable solutions that help keep our documents tamper proof – and it’s an ongoing task.

Returning from a trip to Spain in 2019, newly retired Emilia Varona discovered that in her absence she had become the new owner of a Lexus sports car and owed the bank $48,000. According to her bank, Ms. Varona had also bought a BMW and a Maserati, totaling over $200,000. It took months to clear the debts, during which time a police investigation found that another woman had bought the cars from local car dealers, using a fake driver’s license with Emilia Varona’s personal details and a photo of someone else.1

Emilia Varona is just one of millions of people around the world who fall victim every year to identity crime for commercial reasons. Economic damage is widespread, with people using fictive personalities to steal money from personal bank accounts, take out loans, and make money transfers. Nowadays, identity thefts are increasing as  counterfeiters are easily able to fake weak documents. It’s just a question of how much you’re willing to pay.

Online fraud: a global challenge

Apart from shocking personal stories like those of Emilia Varona, this continuing flow of document fraud is exacting a heavy financial toll both on individuals and on the economy: in the UK alone in 2018, 24% of frauds saw victims losing around £700,000. Worse, the proceeds from such fraudulent activities often end up in the hands of organized crime groups funding a wide range of activities, from human trafficking and slavery to international terrorism.2

At the foundation of border control checks is the verification of travel documents. Those documents can only be as secure and reliable as the systems that produce and authenticate them; as soon as a false document is accepted as genuine, the whole process is effectively invalidated. That’s why, in the ongoing effort to combat international fraud and protect against identity theft, companies such as Veridos are continuously working to create reliable, durable technologies with innovative combinations of advanced functionalities and security features – giving human border officials the time they need to focus on other, security-relevant tasks, and helping governments to stay ahead of the forgers.

Even in today’s digital world, physical identity documents are essential trust anchors for reliable identification, and crucial when it comes to identity control. So how can this reliability be achieved, when the counterfeiters are close behind?

Quality, not quantity

It’s the smart combination, not the number, of different security technologies that makes a document secure. Fifteen security features are not necessarily more secure than 10. What makes a document more secure is the mix of different technologies, from high-security printing, to personalization technologies, electronic components, and other special features such as holographic structures. If someone wants to forge a high-class document, they can try to do it, but Veridos documents are extremely hard to forge, and the company works closely with its customers to design documents with optimized security.

“What makes a document more secure is the mix of different technologies“

The main focus for Veridos is on photo personalization of the document holder, because that’s the first thing that is attractive for forgers along with the personalized data. What Veridos does now with color personalization technology is to combine different kinds of technologies to make it easy to spot fake documents. Laser printing, laminating materials, metallic components, surface structures, and optical variables – all these features can make it harder for the counterfeiter. The top level of security even includes solutions such as Veridos’s INVISIO®, providing invisible security features embedded in holographic structures that can only be identified with a special laser tool.

Tamper-proof technology

Advanced color personalization solutions, such as CLIP ID®, combine secure laser engraving with durable image printing to facilitate the identification of manipulated IDs. The Bangladeshi government has used a highly innovative ePassport solution designed by Veridos to ensure a secure document for efficient border crossing. The new passport uses various innovative features including MAGIC-ID, an advanced multiple-image technology that’s difficult to forge but easy to verify: pixels are preprinted in a special configuration so that images – in this case, a waving Bangladeshi flag – appear to move in multiple directions, depending on the angle at which the card is viewed.

G+D guarantees secure documentation through a smart combination of quality security features and technology.

Another technology that is readily detectable by the eye is Fuse®-ID, which uses laser engraving so that optically variable ink changes color when viewed from different angles or when light is shone from behind. And technology like Veridos’s innovative verifying app SwipeUp ID already exists for people with no specialized knowledge so they can verify chipless documents, such as driver’s licenses and many ID cards, just using their smartphones.

There will be a transition phase, but digitalized solutions will increase every year. Fully digitalized solutions are on the horizon. Physical documents won’t disappear tomorrow, and there will be a period when both technologies are needed. We’re just at the beginning of a migration path – and whichever way countries choose, we will always need to stay one step ahead of the forgers.

  1. “$200K Worth of Luxury Cars Stolen in Identity Theft Case,” NBC Miami, 2019

  2. “Forensic Services,” PwC

Published: 11/08/2020

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