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Identity checks and online verification

MSD is offering clients a new way to verify their identity online, making applying for financial support faster and easier.

Safeguarding identity and making it easier to apply for support

Before people get financial support through MSD, they need to confirm their identity. This helps us protect our clients’ identity and ensure we give support to the right person.

New clients applying for ongoing financial assistance now have two ways they can confirm their identity. They can bring their identity documents into an MSD service centre or verify their identity online, using Identity Check.

An online option makes verifying identity easier for clients, especially those who live far from a service centre or who can’t easily travel.

Identity Check is a safe and secure online identity verification service provided by Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). It enables people to prove who they are by confirming their identity against their New Zealand driver licence or passport.

Clients who don’t want to use Identity Check can still verify their identity at a service centre.

How it works

People can use Identity Check if they apply for ongoing financial assistance online through MyMSD. When they do, they’re redirected to a secure online platform owned by DIA where they’re guided through having a live photo taken using the camera on their phone or computer.

Identity Check then uses facial recognition technology to compare this photo with their driver licence photo held by Waka Kotahi or their passport photo held by DIA.

The applicant is advised within a few moments if their identity has been confirmed and MSD receives a notification from DIA, with the check’s result.

An unsuccessful result doesn’t have any impact on whether an application for support is granted. If this happens, clients are advised to try using Identity Check again (up to a total of 5 times, and then again after 72 hours), or to bring their ID into a service centre for verification.

Accuracy of the process

As Identity Check compares a high-quality image with a specific photo, the likelihood of an accurate check is much greater than facial recognition technology which looks for a match between a low-quality image (such as from a security camera) and multiple photos stored on a database.

The likelihood of a successful check is further enhanced by a good set-up when taking the photo, including looking straight at the camera and avoiding strong lighting. There is guidance on how to take the best photo they can during the Identity Check process and on the Work and Income website.

MSD acknowledges that facial recognition technology in general is still evolving and may not always find a match between photos. There are some examples overseas where the technology has had higher error rates for people with darker skin tones.

MSD and DIA are working in partnership to monitor and review Identity Check’s accuracy. DIA will update the technology where possible so more people can confirm their identity and not have to bring ID into a service centre. If clients do need to bring ID into a service centre and find travel difficult, we work with them on a case-by-case basis.

Valuable feedback from testing and engagement sessions with clients helped us prepare for Identity Check’s release. We’re continuing to draw on feedback to make sure our clients’ experience of Identity Check is positive.

Data shared with MSD

If clients use Identity Check, their name and date of birth as they appear on their driver licence or passport are shared with MSD.

MSD doesn’t have access to the live photo or biometric information clients supply to DIA when using Identity Check.

Safety of information

MSD is committed to respecting the information clients share with us and keeping it safe.

We have systems and safeguards in place to control how we collect, manage and use client information.

Our use of Identity Check meets our Security, Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics Framework (SPHRaE). This helps us make sure we are using people’s personal information in a responsible, transparent and trustworthy way.

We have consulted with MSD’s Māori and Pacific Reference Groups at various stages of this initiative and their advice has been incorporated. As identity information is a taonga, it must be protected and stored in Aotearoa. Identity Check accesses identity data that is already being kept in Aotearoa, and it only does this with a person’s consent.