How Does Identification Differ From Verification?

Identification is the first step in ensuring that the person using your system or service is who they say they are. It is accomplished by capturing something unique to that individual, like fingerprints or their facial scan.

It is often paired with verification and authentication processes to ensure that you know your customer and are following KYC guidelines. It can also be used to supplement other identity verification methods, especially in higher-risk onboarding scenarios.


Identification is the process of establishing a user’s identity and must take place before verification and authorization. It typically requires users to provide a name, phone number, email address or username. This is a common security measure used to prevent identity theft, phishing attacks and other cybercrime.

Identification can also be done through a physical identity card, passport or other government-issued documents. This form of identification is still widely used in the digital age for verifying people’s authenticity and providing them with access to certain services.

Despite its seemingly straightforward definition, the concept of identification is rich with psychological and philosophical interpretations. Psychoanalysts like Freud and Klein have explored the underlying dynamics of identification as a defense mechanism, which is often unconscious. Other researchers have focused on archaic mother-child identification and the idea of identifying with someone as a form of imitation. These various perspectives on identification have prompted a lot of research that continues to be conducted today.


In the era of identity theft and imposter scams, it’s more important than ever to verify that you are who you say you are. Verification is the process of comparing a person’s claimed digital identity (name, ID number, email address) against a trusted source. It’s also a process of validating that the user is who they claim to be, usually with additional security measures like passwords or 2FA codes.

Verification uses a variety of signals to confirm who customers are, such as government ID documents, selfies, and other identifying data. It also works by analyzing the way in which a person logs into a system or website, looking for anomalies like device or location, time of day, and behavior to make sure that it’s really them logging in. This type of verification is sometimes called 1-to-1 matching. It’s different from identification because it focuses on matching against a single person rather than casting a wider net to find similar information.


Authentication takes verification to the next level by verifying that an individual is who they claim to be. This step is crucial in preventing identity theft and fraud. Authentication involves combining something that you have, know, or are with a password or other security measure to prove that you are who you say you are. Something you have factors include identification documents, smart cards, and biometric identifiers like a fingerprint or iris pattern. Something you know factors include a PIN, password, or answer to a secret question. Something you are factors use inherent characteristics to verify identity like a unique voice, fingerprint, or iris pattern.

Location and time are also sometimes used as authentication factors, but they are better categorized as security controls or supplemental measures. Understanding the difference between identification, verification, and authentication is important for businesses because these processes help to secure data and protect against cyber-attacks. They also play an important role in the compliance process.


Many people go through identification, verification, and authentication processes on a daily basis. Understanding the difference between these terms can help prevent identity fraud and ensure compliance with relevant laws.

While identification simply asks a customer to provide ID documents and confirm their information, verification goes one step further by checking whether the provided details match other data that is stored. This can be done through facial recognition technology, biometric verification tools, liveness detection, and other methods that look beyond what a person is saying to what they are doing.

Once both identification and verification have been completed, authorization can take place. This is where the system checks if a user can access certain services and resources, such as their bank account or social media profile. Without these steps, cybercriminals can impersonate people to steal their personal information and accounts. This is why it’s important to use both identification and verification when verifying a new user.

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