Facial recognition software used to verify unemployment beneficiaries would not work well

The facial recognition program used by some two dozen US states to verify people claiming unemployment benefits works inconsistently, resulting in many people being denied benefits or having their claims suspended, Motherboard reported.

The ID.me identity verification service is intended to help reduce unemployment fraud and uses biometric data and official documents to verify people. But according to Motherboard, some who have applied for unemployment reported that ID.me has failed to identify them correctly, and that they had difficulty reaching someone at ID.me to correct the problem.

In a long email response to The edge, Blake Hall, CEO of ID.me, said the company uses “1: 1 Face Matching to match the selfie image to the photo on the government ID card. It’s similar to how Apple uses FaceID to unlock phones and how a TSA agent would compare your face to your photo ID at an airport.

He added that the algorithms used by the company for Face Match “work with about 99.9% efficiency.” Hall also said the company was unaware of “eligible individuals” who could not verify their identity with its software, and that wait times for a video chat with a company representative “have always been less than 30 minutes all week ”.

With millions of people unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, state offices have faced a wave of claims over the past year. Some states reported a sharp increase in fraudulent claims last spring, and the Department of Labor reported (.pdf) in February that between March and October of last year, it identified more than $ 5 billion in potentially fraudulent unemployment benefits.

Updated June 20 at 9:24 a.m.ET: Added comment from ID.me CEO

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