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November 13, 2013

TeleSign Reputation System Scores Phone Numbers to Authenticate Good and Bad Actors

It might be a little early to be making New Year’s predictions, but it seems safe at this point to proclaim that one of the major online technology issues/challenges of 2014 is going to be all things related to IDENTITY.  This is a broad topic of interest to us as users as well as those who would like to use or abuse access to our personal information.  After all, e-commerce is built on trust.  

In an increasingly risky online world, knowing that access to information and authenticating that both sides of an interaction are trustworthy is fundamental to enabling the use of online capabilities for personal as well as commercial interactions and transactions.

Interestingly, despite predictions that as many if not most of the things we do for work and play are virtualized and online the use and need for telephone numbers will go the way of the dinosaurs, just the opposite might be the case. Indeed, as part of the process of validating trust, telephone numbers can be an important tool in the authentication process.

It is for this reason that the latest service enhancement by Los Angeles, CA-based TeleSign, a mobile identity solutions company, in the form of its PhoneID Score capabilities addition to its PhoneID Suite of services commands attention.

For those unfamiliar, TeleSign's Mobile Identity platform is employed by many of the world’s largest customer to protect their user base from account compromise. In fact, the company currently protects 2.5 billion accounts in more than 200 countries and in 87 languages.

Reputation is key

Put simply, PhoneID Score is a new reputation and scoring system that assesses risk based on a user’s phone number. Available worldwide immediately, it adds to TeleSign’s abilities to provide commercial entities detailed information about mobile users including: phone type, registration information, telecom carrier, name and address, subscriber and device status, and roaming status and country.  What PhoneID Score does is provide TeleSign customers, as the name says, a score as to whether the mobile device can be trusted, along with a recommendation as to the risks associated with it based on the score.

This is real-time and extremely valuable information.  As recent reports have noted, mobile devices are increasingly used by fraudsters to wreak their havoc. 

How PhoneID Score works

PhoneID Score is updated dynamically. It responds to user behavior, traffic patterns, reported fraud and global fraud trends. Online companies use PhoneID Score to assess threats associated with a user’s phone number at account registration or during a transaction.

Companies send a user’s phone number to TeleSign via its REST API to receive a real-time score, risk level, and a recommendation which allows them to flag, or block a transaction or registration. The value-added is that the recommendation and score by aiding the process of making informed decisions about approving registrations or transactions, is a useful tool for reducing fraud such as creating fake accounts, and for approving online transactions with greater confidence.

“We each have a unique mobile identity tied to our phone number that is linked to a wealth of information, from where we live to our online activities. This makes the phone number the most efficient and conclusive method to identify fraud online,” said Charles McColgan, CTO at TeleSign. “PhoneID Score introduces a new way for companies to quickly verify transactions, block fake accounts, and prevent e-commerce fraud, based simply on a phone number.”

Source: TeleSign

As McClolgan explained to MobilityTechzone, “Reality is that companies looking to mitigate risks need multi-factor authentication. Because telephone numbers do not change very often, they are extremely important in generating information that can be used to validate identity and help prevent fraud.”  He noted that many social media sites, which increasingly are used as trusted ways to login into other sites, are requesting telephone numbers in their user profiles. 

With the proliferation of smartphones, while IP addresses and other factors used in identity authentication are important, it turns out that using telephone numbers as part of the mix in establishing trust could invaluable.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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