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How to enhance your identity verification decisions with AAMVA checks

AAMVA verification is an effective tool against fraud, but it has tradeoffs, too. Discover the benefits and drawbacks — and how Persona can help.

With millions of people using the internet to socialize, handle their banking, make high-value purchases, and so much more, verifying a person’s identity is more important than ever.

One of the most popular verification methods involves submitting a driver’s license. And yet licenses are also one of the documents most commonly used for fraud. They’re often stolen, altered, or completely fake — and unfortunately, they’re also getting more realistic and harder to catch. In fact, at Persona, we’ve tracked high quality, sophisticated fraudulent IDs that would pass rigorous manual review.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) has created a solution for this problem: confirming that the information on a given license matches what is actively stored in the DMV database.

Driver’s license validation is an effective way to reduce fraud, but like all verification methods, it isn’t a perfect solution by itself. In this blog post, we’ll dig into whether you should use AAMVA to drive risk decisions by discussing the benefits and drawbacks of this verification method.

What is AAMVA verification?

The AAMVA runs the Driver’s License Data Verification (DLDV) service in many states across the US. The purpose of this service is to provide a real-time, uniform solution for verifying information printed on a US driver’s license or identification card.

AAMVA verification involves scanning a driver’s license and extracting important data like the name, birthday, expiration and issue dates, and barcode. Then, it refers to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database to ensure that the information on the license matches the information provided when the license was created.

If the information matches, the system will return a match result and you can be confident that the data is valid and has not been altered. If the data does not match, you will receive an unmatch result. With this information in hand, you can make a decision on whether to deny the user outright, attempt another verification method, or investigate the user further.

Benefits of AAMVA verification

DMV validation is a popular data validation method, and for good reason. It’s proven to be effective in detecting certain types of fraud, relies on a dependable source, and is simple and convenient for your organization to implement.

Effective against fraud

It’s easier than ever to access or create a false driver’s license, and yet driver’s license verification is one of the most popular verification methods on the market.

AAMVA checks provide an effective, federal standard to verify identities. Determining that the information on a particular license exists makes it easier to catch bad actors who have physically or digitally altered a license.

It’s also possible to extract the unique AAMVA barcode from the back of any license and verify that it matches the database. This makes the process even more effective, as any barcode mismatch is highly indicative of license tampering.

An objective source

As a government entity, the DMV has the most up-to-date and accurate information about every driver’s license issued. AAMVA DLVD gives you the ability to verify that the information is real and actually exists inside an objective, issuing database.

Simple and convenient

AAMVA is available across the country (with a few exceptions), so you don’t need to worry about dealing with individual DMV databases in each state. Whether a user is in their home state or is several states away, their information is still verifiable with one simple check.

The verification process is also immediate: within seconds, you’ll know if each data element on the license matches what’s on file. This is an easy way to enhance your verification decisions without any manual effort.

Drawbacks of AAMVA verification

While AAMVA verification can be highly effective, there are also some tradeoffs that come with using this method.

Not available country-wide

There are a few states, such as Alaska, California, and Utah, that do not participate in AAMVA. Others, like Nevada, are planning to implement the system, but it’s still in development.

This means you’ll need to use other methods to verify the identities of users from these states.

Only verifies that information exists

AAMVA DLDV can confirm that the information on the license matches what is registered in the DMV database. However, it cannot confirm:

  • If the license itself is real, or if the license is fake but has correct information overlaid
  • If the license is being used by the person who owns it
  • If the signature or photo are a verified match

For these reasons, AAMVA checks aren’t foolproof. Bad actors can still pass the verification process if they have illegally obtained a person’s license or have used correct information to create a fake ID. This is why it’s so important that you use AAMVA as just one of the tools for enhancing your verification process, rather than relying on it completely.

Relies on accurate data extraction

DMV verification can sometimes fail if there is a data extraction error while pulling information, or if the system is unable to read the AAMVA barcode.

When this happens, users may have to rely on another, more manual verification process. These can take several minutes to several days to complete, which can have a significant impact on conversion rates.

Of course, there are no silver bullets that can perfectly detect fraud without having an impact on conversion rates. That’s why you must find the right system and balance for your customers.

Persona can help

Persona’s identity infrastructure allows you to craft tailored, dynamic verification journeys with one of the industry’s widest ranges of verification components, including AAMVA.

In addition to DMV and other database verifications, we offer everything from biometric selfie scans to phone verification, plus workflows that allow you to send each user through the verification process that makes the most sense for them.

Many of our customers use AAMVA for high-risk populations and for high-value transactions. Typical users go through something more straightforward, but if someone has a thin credit history, is under a certain age, or fails a database verification, they can be prompted to complete additional checks such as AAMVA.

For example, retailers can use AAMVA to verify a person’s identity if they are a new customer or are making a particularly large purchase, while financial institutions can use AAMVA to gather more information if an individual is unable to complete another verification method.

The end result is a painless process that internal and external users love — and one that also provides the best possible security and fraud detection for your organization.

Get started today

Are you ready to simplify verification with one easy-to-use platform that incorporates every tool you need (and then some)? Reach out to us and see how a comprehensive identity verification system can change your business.

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