Data sharing key to fighting document fraud, says former cop

Sharing data on lost, stolen and fraudulent identity documents would go a long way to stamping out fraud, says former cop

A secure and effective way of sharing data on lost, stolen and fraudulent identity documents would go a long way to stamping out fraud, says consultant and former police officer Russ Middleton.

“Fraudsters are increasingly exploiting the growing gap between document security technology and the ability of people in organisations to use it,” he told the SDW 2014 conference in London.

Education and training of people in governmental and non-governmental organisations that rely on identity documents is also essential in helping to identify fraudulent documents.

“But there is virtually no way of detecting fraudulently obtained genuine documents known as Fogs, where the document is genuine, but the application process is fraudulent,” said Middleton, director of consultancy at training firm Delmont ID.

A growing number of non-government organisations such as banks, employment agencies and car hire companies are turning to scanning technologies to improve document authentication.

“Although a useful first line of defence, scanners are no substitute for people trained in fraud detection, so training is important,” said Middleton.

“However, only an ability to cross-reference with a database of lost, stolen and known Fogs will provide a high level of certainty,” he said.

Interpol is piloting an application that will engage members of the public and the private sector in detecting and preventing illicit transactions.

Among other things, the I-Checkit system is being developed to identify the fraudulent use of travel documents.

The initiative’s long-term goal is to increase global security by providing the general public and private sector with ways to complement existing law enforcement methods.

“This is a step in the right direction because it will allow greater access to Interpol’s database of lost or stolen travel documents,” said Middleton.

“But the database should include Fogs, because this is the only way government and non-government organisations can identify where these documents are.”

Middleton sees access to such a comprehensive database as key to tackling identity-related crime, which costs the UK an estimated £3.3bn a year out of a total fraud bill of £52bn.

Read more on Privacy and data protection