Customer Address Verification: Freshness Guaranteed

Amy Hou  |  November 21, 2018   |  ID Verification  


Suppose you’re running a sandwich shop. Bread isn’t your only business, but it’s a big slice of your business: it needs to be high quality, and it needs to be fresh. Nobody’s shelling out $11.99 for your artisanal turkey-avocado clubs if you’re serving them up on moldy Wonder Bread. When it comes to financial services and identity verification, customer address verification is the bread to the risk mitigation sandwich – a foundational ingredient that, unfortunately, is all-too-often stale and out of date.

Don't settle for stale address data.

The “big three” credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – don’t always maintain the most current address data, given the difficulty of acquiring updated, trustworthy address information regularly from consumers, so there’s not much of an alternative to their address databases. That is, until now. Enter: user-permissioned utility data from Urjanet.

What Is Customer Address Verification?

Customer address verification underlies industries from mortgage lending to e-commerce, and from the sharing economy to online gaming. It works on a simple principle: when conducting high-risk, high-value transactions with a customer that depend on service to a particular geographic location, it’s important to verify that the address in question really belongs to the customer.

When conducting high-risk, high-value transactions, it’s important to verify that the address in question really belongs to the customer.

For the sake of example, imagine you’re a fraudster. You’re looking to steal identities, break into online accounts, and slip away with a tidy profit. One simple option, exploited by many fraudsters before you, is change-of-address fraud. By posing as your unsuspecting target and routing their mail to you, you can easily take control of their confidential communications, financial, and otherwise.

This is, of course, a serious crime, and checks have been instituted at the Post Office in recent months to shore up change-of-address security. But the same process is even easier with digital transactions, which makes the need for customer address verification readily apparent. It’s crucial in any case where an address is the key piece of information that enables a high-risk transaction – whether you’re ordering an expensive engagement ring from Amazon, taking out a mortgage for a property, or listing a home for rent on AirBnB.

The Downsides of Stale Data

The key ingredient in any effective customer address verification program is, of course, fresh, trustworthy address data. Outdated or vulnerable address databases just don’t cut it.

Why? First, consider the case of outdated address information. Suppose you’re making a big-ticket purchase online, and you’ve recently moved houses. Before your new address is verified by the seller, you could be locked out of such purchases entirely – or they might only be deliverable to your old address. 

Similarly, by allowing address data to lapse, vulnerabilities are opened for customers to fraudulently list properties as rentals on sharing apps like AirBnB: if a fraudster’s old address is still listed as belonging to them in, say, Equifax’s address database, it would be difficult to prevent them from listing it as an available rental and swindling unsuspecting renters out of their money.

Another key vulnerability? Document forgery. Optical character recognition (OCR) technology, alongside other security features such as magnetic-readable zones (MRZ), enables the kind of document scanning that powers mobile check deposits as well as document-scanning services such as Jumio’s Fastfill

Despite security measures like MRZ, careful document forgery can still reliably fool some OCR tools – and in the worst case, when documents are directly scanned and submitted to a human recipient, there’s no reliable way to detect and prevent careful electronic forgery. A potential fraudster could easily edit the address line of a government ID card or utility bill and, with a little luck, pass for that address’ owner.

So what’s a business to do? Urjanet is here to help.

Address Data Fresh from the Oven

Say goodbye to stale data.

Urjanet, the world’s leading utility data provider, sources customer address data directly from utility providers, with no opportunity for tampering. We obtain corroborating utility bills on demand, with user-permissioned utility account credentials, so you can be sure that your customers’ addresses are real and up to date. 

Fresh data is critical to the mortgage lending process. Proof of occupancy is often required by borrowers to verify that they’re living in the recently purchased property per government regulations for FHA, VA, and USDA loans. By implementing digital document verification, lenders can streamline the occupancy verification process and eliminate manual document collection.

With Urjanet’s Connect UI Toolkit, you can simply point users to a ready-made landing page to connect their utility accounts – without all the messy integrations or unpleasant user experiences. We handle the bread-making so you can focus on what matters: giving your customers the best possible product, with the freshest ingredients around.

Urjanet’s data platform keeps your address data fresh, complete, and reliable. Contact us to speak with an expert and see our platform in action. 

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.

Tags   Identity & Fraud   |   Identity Verification   |   Urjanet   |