VeriSign launches online ID verification service

Trust services vendor VeriSign yesterday unveiled an online identity verification service that allows Web customers to establish...

Trust services vendor VeriSign yesterday unveiled an online identity verification service that allows Web customers to establish their identities with online merchants.

The Consumer Authentication Service (CAS) provides online businesses with instant, round-the-clock information taken from more than 50 public and private databases to ensure a customer's identity, said Anil Chakravarthy, director of product management for VeriSign's enterprise group.

The information comes from government, credit agencies and telephone number databases, Optimised scoring models are used to help businesses quickly and easily determine whether potential buyers are who they claim to be.

The services, which are charged to the businesses on a per-transaction basis by VeriSign, vary with the importance of the identity checks.

The services are not for typical retail online sales but would be used by online auction houses such as eBay or similar businesses to establish the identities of first-time customers seeking credit accounts.

"It makes very good sense for the online auction house to check on you," to reduce fraud, identity theft and other problems, Chakravarthy said.

The service uses a predefined set of XML standards to connect to an enterprise's customer-facing Web application. The authentication data entered by the consumer is then routed using XML and encryption through VeriSign's services and is checked against varied databases to cross-verify and risk-rank the consumer identity. Verification is then automatically sent back to the enterprise application and to the consumer, using underlying XML data.

The communication is secured with Secure Sockets Layer encryption that is already built into standard Web servers and browsers.

"We take extraordinary measures not only to be highly secure, but also we take extraordinary care to ensure the privacy of this information," Chakravarthy said.

VeriSign previously offered such services only to online auction vendors.

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