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Identity Verification

Identity verification

One of my son’s favourite stories concludes with the warm fuzzy identity verification line:

Are you a penguin? You’re not? But wait! You must be YOU! Now isn’t that great!

In the wonderful world of fiction good triumphs over evil, the bad guys get what they deserve, and everyone lives happily ever after.

When it comes the “you must be you” part of the story, real life is more problematic.

The endless stream of media stories about identity theft, fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion schemes have resulted in a multitude of “know your customer” regulations that demand service providers verify that the person they are dealing with is actually the person they are claiming to be.

At times this bureaucratic overhead certainly seems inconvenient, however the relentless identity confirmation challenge facing those service providers can be readily illustrated by the famous “I am Spartacus” scene from either the movie or TV series.

Who is the real Spartacus? Illustrating the problem of identity verification.

As an account holder, I certainly hope my bank won’t just hand over my hard earned savings to some random imposter who happens to claim they are me. For such challenges to work I must be able to prove who I am.

Don’t believe me? Good luck with performing any of the following everyday activities without producing identity verification such as a birth certificate, passport, or driver’s license:

  • Open a bank account
  • Accept an offer of employment
  • Borrow money
  • Register to vote
  • Enrol in school
  • Apply for social security benefits such as the state pension
  • Buy or sell real estate
  • Board an international flight

The (often overlooked) first step towards mastering your time is establishing proof of identity.

That may be easier said than done, depending on where (and when) you were born.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states:

The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents

The births of ~57 million children are not formally registered every year. Without a birth certificate it becomes virtually impossible for them to prove they exist, much like the Keyser Söze character from the movie The Usual Suspects.

Usual Suspects

It is difficult for children without birth certificates to prove they exist. Image credit: Minifigs.me.

Celebrate one of life’s small wins if your parents registered your birth! You have avoided the endless administrative hell endured by those less fortunate.

Your family narrative may not reconcile with the facts on your birth certificate. All those plot lines from daytime television soap operas originated from somewhere! Every family tree contains skeletons if you look hard enough. You have been warned!

Next steps

  • Acquire an official copy of your birth certificate so that you can pass identity verification checks.
  • Support UNICEF and the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child by registering every birth.
  • Marvel at the custom Lego minifigures created by the talented folks at Minifigs.me.
  • If you liked this post then please share it with your friends.
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