Identity Verification Definition

KZero Staff
Oct 12, 2023

Identity Verification

Identity verification is the process of proving a user’s identity. This usually occurs as part of the account creation process, where the user’s identity is proven before an account is created for them and their credentials are registered.

How Does Identity Verification Work?

For some types of accounts, it’s necessary to verify a user’s identity before creating an account for them. For example, financial institutions are often required to validate a potential customer’s identity under Knows Your Customer (KYC) laws. Other organizations may perform identity verification to ensure that users pay their bills, are not known criminals, etc.

The identity verification process typically involves inspecting some form of trusted identity documents. Some common examples include:

  • Driver’s licenses
  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Government IDs

Typically, identity verification requires the user to provide a photo ID. This uses a form of biometric authentication — facial recognition — to ensure that the user is who they claim to be. If they pass the verification step, the organization can make an informed decision about whether they should be given an account.

Identification vs. Verification vs. Authentication

A user may need to go through multiple processes related to stating or proving their identity. Three of the main ones include:

  • Identification: Identification involves claiming a particular identity but offering no proof. For example, saying “Hello, my name is…” at a party is a form of identification. However, it’s entirely possible that you’re lying about your identity.
  • Verification: Verification backs up the claims made during the identity step. In this stage, a user provides some evidence that supports their alleged identity.
  • Authentication: Authentication occurs when a user is attempting to gain access to their account. At this stage, a user provides an authentication factor to prove that they are the owner of an account that already has an identity tied to it.

If the lifecycle of a user’s relationship with an organization, identification and verification occur during the account creation process and perhaps at regular intervals afterward (i.e. annual identity verification). Authentication is performed every time the user attempts to access their account.

Challenges of Identity Verification

Identity verification can be a hard problem, especially on the Internet. This is why it’s possible for 5-year-olds to have accounts on social media sites with a minimum age of 13. Some of the main challenges around identity verification include:

  • Privacy: Identity verification and privacy are usually at odds with one another. Proving identity involves revealing it, which people may not be willing to do with every website.
  • Fake IDs: Identity verification requires the ability to validate that the ID used to prove identity is authentic. This can be difficult to do, especially over the Internet, where a website needs to rely on images and videos rather than live verification.


Identity verification is a vital part of identity and access management (IAM). Before creating an account tied to a user’s real-world identity, an organization needs to verify that identity. In general, this is based on inspection of some form of trusted ID.

KZero Staff

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