What are Biographical Identifiers?

There are many times throughout ones life that it is necessary to prove that you are who you say you are. Proving ones identity is an integral part of everything from getting a home loan to getting your power turned on. To prove ones identity, we really on several types of identifiers, which can be broken down into biographical identifiers, attributed identifiers, and biometric identifiers.

Biographical identifiers are identifiers that are developed over the course of a persons life, including educational history and work history. As is the case with all identifiers, criminals perpetrating identity theft will find ways to exploit the way financial institutions use these types of identifiers to prove identity.

As is the case with all types of identifiers, most institutions use them in ways they were not intended, which results in more weight being given to these identifiers than was ever intended. For example, in the United Kingdom, a new law now requires that banks verify someones identity prior to opening an account for them.

There are many options given to the bank to achieve this, including using a number of biographical identifiers, such as a University Letter of acceptance or enrollment, drivers licenses, and rent agreements. The problem with the acceptance of these types of biographical identifiers is that they were never truly intended to be used in this manner, so are not well protected, nor are they hard to obtain. As a result, this simply makes it much easier for a criminal to open a bank account, because, for instance, obtaining a university enrollment statement can be done relatively easily using social engineering.

The Drivers License

Both in the United States and the United Kingdom, the Drivers License is one of the chief forms of biographical identification. In the United States, simply knowing someones Social Security Number and having a fake Drivers License is enough to commit pretty much any type of identity theft.

With so much weight put on the drivers license, it might be easy to think that getting one would be pretty hard, but this is not really the case. In the United States, having a attributed identifier, which is something you are born with, and a biographical identifiers is enough to get a drivers licesce with simple problem. So, for instance, by simply having a copy of someones birth certificate, which is incredibly easy to obtain, sometimes without showing any form of ID and a copy of an utility bill is sufficient to get a fake drivers license.

The drivers license is the most common form of biographical identification, but there are many other ones used that are even more insecure. For instance, knowing someones primary email address can often allow you to access a great deal of their life.

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