Report: ID.me Lied to the IRS About Wait Times for Its Identity Verification Service
November 21, 2022
Two U.S. House committees recently revealed that identity verification vendor ID.me deliberately underestimated how long people had to wait for virtual interviews to access government benefits and massively overestimated the extent of welfare fraud during the pandemic. “It is deeply disappointing that a company that received tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to help Americans obtain these benefits may have hurt their ability to access that critical relief,” Rep. James Clyburn, Chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, said. “ID.me’s practices risked putting desperately needed relief out of reach for Americans who lack ready access to computers, smartphones, or the internet.”
The committees revealed that in 2021, ID.me claimed only a 2-hour wait time for the 10-15 percent of people seeking benefits who ID.me failed to identify with its facial recognition software. In reality, wait times averaged more than 4 hours in the majority of states using the system, and in some states the average wait time was more than 9 hours. The same year, ID.me removed the ability to schedule virtual appointments, making it even harder for working people and people depending on public computers to receive benefits. “In some cases, ID.me removed important customer service accommodations, making it more difficult for users to speak with trusted referees,” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, said. “I am also deeply concerned about ID.me providing inaccurate information to federal agencies in order to be awarded millions of dollars in contracts.”
An EPIC-led coalition of privacy and civil liberties groups urged federal and state agencies to end their use of ID.me and other face verification services. IRS dropped its plan to use ID.me after criticism from members of Congress, EPIC, and many others. The company came under fire for forcing individuals to submit to intrusive facial recognition identity verification, subjecting people to long wait times for verification, and misleading the public. Individuals can join organizations pushing back against the use of face verification by signing this petition to Dump ID.me.