Bureaucracy and Biometrics in Colorado: The ID.me Controversy - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

ID.me, a privately-owned identity verification software recently adopted by 25 states, has come under fire for its lengthy processing time. Most recently, it has been implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment of Colorado.

Colorado turned to ID.me after the U.S. Department of Labor, in an attempt to stymie large-scale attempts at identity fraud while applying for unemployment benefits, mandated that states use more “robust” identity verification avenues.

While ID.me claims that 9 out of 10 claimants are successful when put through the system— the state of Colorado puts that number closer to 85%— reports of the software’s time misuse (and undelighted users) abound.

ID.me in Context

In 2019, CDLE officials handled 90 fraudulent application cases from people trying to claim benefits they were not entitled to. Since the pandemic, that number has grown to a million, with claims filed using stolen identifiable information. And despite installing north of 60 fraud detection mechanisms to counteract it, CDLE was unable to stop the onslaught. They turned to ID.me not only for vetting questionable applications, but for vetting all new applicants.

“We understand how frustrating this added step may be for legitimate claimants, and we are doing everything we can to clear any unnecessary holds in the most responsible way,” Cher Haavind, CDLE’s deputy executive director, said to the Denver Post. “We are dedicated to making sure we are providing eligible claimants the funds they need to weather the financial impacts of the pandemic, while also fulfilling our duty to protect Colorado’s Unemployment Insurance program from criminals.”

Blake Hall, co-founder and CEO of ID.me, highlights the quid pro quo. “States are being caught in this really tough position. They can either pay those (fake) claims or make video chat times higher and cut out the fraud,” he told the Denver Post.

Colorado’s Inefficiency

Critics of ID.me, often those caught in time-sucking re-verification circumstances, wager that there are more efficient digital identity systems out there that take merely milliseconds and lift the burden from the individual. The time they waste waiting for the bureaucratic gears to shift in their direction is far too long.

“There is this huge group of claims over here—the 60% to 70% that looks very low risk—just pay them,” says Jon Coss to the Denver Post, Vice President of Risk, Fraud, and Compliance at Tomson Reuter’s government unit, when asked about how ID.me can make their process more efficient. “Then focus on this other group.”

No less, Hall wants Coloradians to appreciate the dire threat of identity fraud and the lengths to which criminals will go to avoid digital security measures. Safety is especially important to him as a former Army Ranger in Iraq.

“We care a ton about everybody getting through, it is part of our culture, part of my background as a veteran. We are working 24/7, we are working our tails off to make sure everyone eligible gets through,” he told the Denver Post.


Olivia Baker is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review from Columbia University, where she writes on tech policy and national digital identity technologies.

Contact Olivia Baker at olivia@identityreview.com.

Do you have information to share with Identity Review? Email us at press@identityreview.com.

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