Old verification systems remind us of the need for new

In his weekly blog post, Dealflow CEO Steven Dresner is reminded why entrepreneurs are working on better identity verification systems.

Last weekend I had a legitimate identity crisis.

On Sunday, I spent more than two hours on the telephone with Apple’s customer support trying to prove that I was me. Sure, we’ve all been frustrated by customer support calls that go nowhere until you’ve had your own “ah-ha” moment and figured things out for yourself.

But this customer support call was different – I wasn’t trying to fix anything. I was trying to convince Apple that I was who I said I was so I could access my cloud storage account.

Like a lot of companies these days, Apple is concerned with “identity verification” to ensure that the information a customer provides is associated with the identity of a real person and that the real person is you. Even Dealflow has dealt with identity verification issues. As we conduct our deal research, we frequently find investors with the same name coming from different sources. Figuring out how to reconcile the investor “John Smith” who’s listed on a Form D filing versus the “John Smith” that’s quoted in a press release versus the “John J. Smith” who used his middle initial on a previous SEC filing, well …it’s a complicated matter.

During my support call with Apple I told them everything I could to prove I was me. I gave them my Apple ID, my address, credit card info, all of my recent purchases, you name it. But what they needed was for me to log into an old Yahoo Mail account and retrieve a code they sent me because it was that Yahoo Mail account which I used when I signed up to Apple 10 years ago. This process is known as “two factor authentication” and it offers a higher level of security. It’s totally the right approach to ID protection but it took me hours to get resolved because I didn’t remember that email log-in and the recovery telephone number was an old cell phone I don’t have anymore.

The day after having my identity crisis with Apple, I called Seth Farbman at Vstock to complain about it. Why complain to Seth? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I read a press release announcing a product called eSignatureGuarantee, which he launched to provide an ID verification system to allow shareholders to move securities online. So I figured Seth would be a knowledgeable audience who would listen to me complain and educate me on what he was doing at the same time.

As it turned out, not only has he been working on an identity verification system, but he’s been applying it to the area of transferring securities, which is something I’m familiar with having dealt with the annoyance of getting a medallion signature guarantee every time I need to deposit a stock certificate.

If you’ve ever made an investment in a company that issued you a hard copy stock certificate, then you can relate to what an inconvenience it is to get that certificate deposited into your account. As Seth explained to me, the eSignature system uses a two-factor authentication technology just like Apple and allows you to deposit a certificate or transfer securities without having to go to the bank. I signed up for it and figured I’d pass it along for investors and brokers tired of dealing with physical guarantees. Check it out.

Steven Dresner

[email protected]

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