CBP Officers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, PED WEST facility, use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to and social distancing to protect themselves and the people they encounter from COVID-19. (Photo by Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Real ID Makes the Case to Move More DMV Services Online

On the surface, getting a Real ID-compliant license or ID card seems simple. But since doing so requires an in-person visit to your local DMV office with specific documents in hand that need to be reviewed and scanned, it can translate to longer lines for all customers. In Nashville, Tenn., some people waited five hours or needed multiple trips to get a Real ID-compliant license. In some parts of California, elected officials said setting a Real ID appointment involved a three- to four-month wait. Concerns are growing about the Real ID’s impact on all DMV customers, especially as the deadline for compliance approaches.

Even with the new deadline of October 2021, it’s likely that people will delay applying for a Real ID until the last minute. After all, procrastination is human nature; as of January this year, only 34 percent of eligible licenses and ID cards were upgraded to Real ID, and now COVID-19 restrictions will delay applications for weeks or months, shortening the time available to get a new card.

So, if Real ID applications take more time and resources at the counter, thereby slowing things down for everyone, it makes sense to give people an alternative to going to the DMV for functions that don’t require an in-person appearance. In short, move customers online, not inline.

Many states have already enabled a number of transactions on their DMV websites as well as through industry partners. Also, in 12 states currently, kiosks located in convenient locations, like grocery stores and auto clubs, allow a number of transactions along with convenience.

There’s a catch, though: the same technology that makes things simpler and more convenient for DMV customers also does the same for fraudsters. Digital identity fraud is growing worldwide, especially via mobile devices. In the U.S. alone, mobile app attacks have grown by 138 percent year to year. Fraudsters are trying to create new identities, frequently piecing together stolen, authentic information with fake details.

A driver’s license is the gateway to identity. Armed with a fraudulent ID, criminals could apply for government benefits, curtailing what is available to those actually in need. Fraudulent IDs based on real information, such as a person’s Social Security number and birthdate, can also affect that person’s credit ratings and access to everything from healthcare to education to tax refunds.

Preventing Digital ID Fraud Demands Authentication

A solution needs to both verify and authenticate online or kiosk users’ identities while limiting friction. A back-end solution that can authenticate in near-real-time can both simplify the process while assuring DMVs that the users are who they say they are.

Just to be clear, it’s one thing to verify credentials, which means confirming that the information is legitimate. But it’s a much bigger lift to authenticate that the person using those credentials is actually that person… or if that person even exists.

A true authentication solution correlates online behavior and activity patterns, then uses automated Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to analyze factors that include geolocation, device information, IP addresses, biometrics and behavioral cues, details from public records and more. This analysis can separate humans from bots and help ensure that the entity attempting to log in is really a specific person.

Think about how this could speed up many DMV functions: users would no longer need to take time off from work and travel to their local office for many transactions, DMVs could see shorter lines and more efficient use of resources, and an attack surface that could provide entry to secure government systems could be greatly reduced.

For those without internet at home, the expanded use of kiosks democratizes access to services. Currently, kiosks in some states can provide a limited range of services, from printing out driving records to dispensing license plate stickers and other documents. Kiosks are also visual reminders to remain compliant with renewal deadlines. When supported by near-real-time authentication, they could become access points for everything from driver’s license and registration renewals to address changes – services that demand authentication and security.

Moving Closer to Digital Government

During these unprecedented times, with most state and local government offices closed for the foreseeable future, states with robust online capabilities have been able to continue serving customers. This also means agencies can continue to collect critical revenues that support ongoing operations.

An expanded range of online DMV transactions fits well with many states’ digital initiatives. The National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) set digital government as a top 10 priority for 2020, coming in second only to cybersecurity. Most interactions – from permit applications to hunting licenses and more – where a government agency needs to verify identity could be done remotely and with confidence, while reducing paper and saving time for customers who no longer would have to go to a government office to submit forms and confirm their identities in person.

To get to this “online, not inline” future requires education and awareness of what can be done and how to go about doing it. For everyday customers, it means a greater awareness of what can be done outside of a DMV office. For governments, it requires a broader understanding of what is possible, the benefits of Digital ID verification and authentication and how security protocols can be maintained and strengthened. It also means addressing customers’ privacy and security concerns while highlighting the time savings and ease of use of a website or kiosk.

Better Customer Experience, Greater Security

DHS announced in February that states can accept electronic submissions of the required Real ID documents from applicants. An in-person visit is still required to finalize the application, but the ability to upload passports and other ID documents in advance should, logically, cut down time at the counter significantly, easing concerns about longer wait times for all DMV customers.

States have an obligation to protect their systems and employees as well as the personal information of the people they serve. They also face growing pressure to provide an improved user experience, and they need to do all this while respecting budgets and regulations. With a secure, near-real-time authentication solution as a foundation, they can take a giant step forward toward achieving all three.

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Larry Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the LexisNexis Risk Solutions government division. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings. His domain expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by organized criminal groups and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding. Mr. Benson has more than 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. One focused in the network management vertical, and the second in the data and analytics vertical. During this time, he held various positions such as CEO, VP of Sales, VP of Business Development, and VP of Marketing. During the 1990’s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career working for Martin Marietta working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems. A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and has received two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.

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