IRS Looks to BioCatch to Verify Users

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been testing several systems to authenticate the identity of individuals using their online systems to access information. The agency has pursued several authentication tools in the last few years and has now announced a sole-source contract with BioCatch for a proof-of-concept that would incorporate behavioral analytics into the agency’s eAuthentication (eAuth) system.

According to the proof-of-concept, “In July 2018, Enterprise Services (ES) was awarded funds by the Department of the Treasury to be used to incorporate innovative ideas to bring strong authentication to the IRS online. With these funds, a large set of ideas was researched and subsequently narrowed down to a smaller list of potentially implementable solutions. From this list, BioCatch was selected for its behavioral biometrics and fraud reduction capabilities to be tested with eAuth.”

As the Government Accountability Office found last year, in 2016 the IRS was successful at stopping almost 87 percent of fraudulent tax returns; however, scammers were still able to steal approximately $1.6 billion from the agency.

BioCatch collects behavioral metrics while the user is interacting with eAuth systems and establishes a profile for the individual user. These metrics include right/left handedness and pressure. The proof-of-concept affirms that individual experiences are not impacted by the technology.

The profile created by BioCatch is then used each time the user attempts to login to detect fraud and prevent an account takeover during user sessions.

The goal of the proof-of-concept is to establish a “risk-based approach” to limiting fraudulent activity and helping the IRS protect taxpayers online experience.

The proof-of-concept will focus on the accuracy of the system, whether the product is clear and concise, whether the product is timely, the format in which the product is delivered, and whether the product satisfies the government requirements.

This proof-of-concept will run through January 17. At that point the IRS will decide whether to adopt the technology or continue searching for a different solution.

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