Fraud in test taking and student loans can threaten the very existence of online colleges and universities
Manually documenting student identities before they take an online exam or receive student loan payments are labor intensive and very costly for schools coping with stagnating technology budgets.
Ensuring students are who they say they are, using the decidedly old-school approach, is also an inefficient system that has fallen short in many online college programs over the past decade as web-based learning grows.
The problem of identity fraud has become so pervasive in higher education that officials from the U.S. Department of Education have issued suggestions — and warnings — to colleges.
ED’s inspector general in 2012 suggested online colleges improve student verification before student aid is dispersed–sometimes several thousand dollars per disbursement. Campus officials whose colleges have been burned by student aid fraud rings have been known to temporarily stop accepting students from states known for large numbers of fake students who find their way into courses to collect an aid check.
And it’s this fraud that fuels criticism of online education as an inferior option to traditional in-person education.
Officials from the Atlanta-based company IDology are keenly aware of the importance of stopping fraudsters in their tracks, and the company’s technology has proven key in ensuring students are who they say they are.
See how IDology’s solutions stop fraud in its tracks…
Kevan Sears, head of enterprise sales for IDology, said using the company’s photo ID scan and validation technology — which accurately approves student IDs before an exam is taken, for example — is central to building and maintaining a reputation as a legitimate educational institution.
“No school out there wants to be known as a hotbed of fraud,” Dancu said. “They know that their reputation is connected to how they deal with this issue and how successful they are in combating the sort of [test and student aid] fraud we’ve seen over the years.”
Using IDology’s photo ID solution, a student can hold her ID up to a webcam, for instance, and confirm her identity before the test begins. The technology is designed to read micro-prints and data points that prove the ID is the real deal.
IDology officials said many anti-fraud solutions use questions derived from credit reports to verify a student’s identity before an exam or before receiving student loan payments. This might not make much sense for 18 and 19 year olds with limited or no credit history.
IDology’s solution aims to ask questions that wouldn’t stump the honest student, but would befuddle someone looking to commit student loan or online exam fraud.
“We’re trying to make it easy on the student and very tough on the fraudster,” said Chris Pope, director of product marketing for IDology. “That’s the key for us: weed out the fraudsters without making life difficult for the honest student.”