Posted by MeridianLink | March 6, 2024

The Evolving Journey of Identity for New-To-Country Consumers 

The following post is part of a series of blogs written by MeridianLink® Partners who will be attending MeridianLink LIVE! To learn more about the event, click here. 

By: Emily Saitta

As individuals navigate life events, financial institutions face challenges to consistently and confidently verify their identities. Without a comprehensive view, weak identity verification at account opening leaves the door open for fraudsters to slip through, and for inequitable access to financial services for customers who may lack specific legacy verifiable information.  

The focus of our story today imagines the life of Mia, a young woman immigrating to the United States. We’ll follow her journey as she traverses the financial ecosystem, and explore what organizations can do to ensure all good consumers gain access to financial services, without  unnecessary friction. 

Verifying Mia: A Journey to Financial Access 

Like many new-to-country individuals, Mia does not have an established U.S. credit history or much documentation to verify her identity to financial institutions and service providers. This makes it difficult for Mia to gain access to credit cards, loans, bank accounts, and other financial services that are critical for establishing financial independence in a new country.  

Traditionally, new-to-country consumers like Mia face substantial friction during the application process for financial services. With limited credit history available, many providers resort to manual reviews, step-up authentication methods, and denying applications altogether. This results in new immigrants being unfairly barred from the same financial services readily available to those with established U.S. credit. 

However, with advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, financial institutions can take a more holistic approach to identity verification for new-to-country consumers. The advances matter for traditionally underserved demographics. New-to-country populations, Gen Zers building credit, and thin file consumers disproportionately suffer false positives and denials from legacy checks. Inclusive verification accurately tracks authentic users across fluid lifecycle events without disadvantageous groups where limited historical data prompts overly conservative decisions. 
By analyzing a wider range of identity attributes beyond simply credit history, providers can paint a more comprehensive picture of an applicant. Factors like email addresses, phone carrier information, IP location, and more can help verify an identity without relying solely on credit records.  

Calibrating Identity Information  

As Mia begins applying for financial services, analysis of her email address, phone carrier type, IP location, and other details can reliably match her identity even without existing credit data. This allows Mia to be approved for accounts and gain access to the financing she needs to settle into her new home. 

Over time, Mia establishes consistent usage patterns that further solidify her identity. She uses Google Pixel phones set to Turkish, sticks with a premium mobile carrier, and has accounts with the same email address. This consistent digital footprint remains reliable verification, even as Mia moves apartments and states. While her address changes, analysis of her device, IP, carrier, and email continues to reinforce her identity. 

Unfortunately, Mia later becomes victim to a data breach where her personal information is exposed. Cybercriminals use Mia’s details and generative AI software to create fake identities and open fraudulent accounts. In an age of sophisticated fraud attacks, a singular view of identity is no longer sufficient. Advanced analytics such as large language models are required to perform anomaly detection at a rate that can keep up with high volume and high velocity generative AI fraud. 

A Path to Access  

By combining artificial intelligence with a layered defense of behavioral analysis, device identification, email security, and collaborative intelligence, institutions can detect even complex fraud campaigns. Connecting digital signals and patterns of behavior provides a multidimensional view of identity. This allows providers to distinguish genuine consumers from fraudulent accounts, even when personal information has been compromised. 

Mia’s journey shows the evolving landscape of identity for new-to-country individuals. As life circumstances and fraud techniques change, financial institutions must keep pace to accurately verify consumers without unfair bias or discrimination. With advanced analytics and a holistic understanding of identity, organizations can confidently approve new immigrants to provide equal access to financial services critical for establishing independence in a new country. 

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