Stranger Danger: Why You Should Care About Verifying Identities in the Age of the Sharing Economy
November 7, 2017
The Sharing Economy, which in broad terms is defined as an economic system in which assets or services are shared between individuals via the internet and especially mobile apps, has become a major way in which Millennials transact. This includes conducting transactions for business, travel, on-demand services and virtually all lifestyle-type offerings for goods and services. According to Pew Research, about 72% of Americans have tried at least one platform or service.
While the rise of sharing economy apps appears to have made many luxury services and chores more convenient and accessible, there is the question of security. Not every app emphasizes security and privacy. Many use social media as a way to verify users. These are merely connected to a Facebook or other social profile, which can be easily faked. Then there is the question of employee verification. With so many services that allow users to invite providers into their private homes, a private car or a private location – one has to ask the question, how is my safety being addressed? We need only refer to Uber to see how instances of assaults by drivers and passengers have made customers, especially women, warier of these services. And we have all heard a crazy story about an Airbnb person who would not leave or destroyed the house. Wouldn’t it bring some peace of mind to know your driver, houseguest, online date, make-up artist etc., has been verified and that you know this before they enter your life?
Seeing a picture and name of your driver or delivery person does not mean necessarily that this person has been verified. Not every sharing economy platform conducts background checks and only in the last few years has ID verification become more of a concern to even the major platforms like the aforementioned Uber who now continuously verifies driver identities.
It is important for businesses to continually update their security by verifying IDs and conducting background checks. In addition, educating customers about best practices will also help to protect privacy and prevent a negative experience.
While companies catch up on their security standards, here are some tips for customers using apps and services:
- Learn to Spot Fake Reviews
Don’t be fooled by stellar reviews. If there are only a handful of 5-star reviews, these could have been written by personal friends. Pick someone with hundreds of good reviews and be assured that this provider is giving a consistent, positive experience.
- Research Company Methods of ID Verification the Background Checks
Before using any service, do some research about what kind of identity verification they use for employees and users, as well as if background checks are conducted, general policies, and whether there are outstanding lawsuits against the company. Checks such as sex offender registries, DMV records, or taking social security number information are some basic tests of a trusted service.
- Change your Profile Pictures
As Sharing Economy platforms become more popular, they often become targets of ID theft and confidence schemes. A good way to avoid being conned is to use a new photo not attached to any other platform that might contain personal information such as LinkedIn or even Facebook.
- Think Before You Speak
Don’t talk to strangers about your plans. A handyman, housekeeper, or driver from an app doesn’t need to know where you’re going or how long you’ll be away. In addition, it might be a good idea to let close friends or family know whenever you are on the road, in someone else’s home, or have someone in your own home.
Sharing economy platforms and services must do more to protect customer privacy and security. Verifying IDs is a crucial step in establishing trust between customers and providers. Acuant’s ID Proofing Solutions allow businesses to capture accurate ID data, ensure IDs are valid and verify identities in seconds for secure mobile transactions.