Are you old enough to use this website? That question is not rhetorical. And for website administrators, the answer to the question is of paramount importance. The problem is how easy it is to lie when that question is posted online. The solution is age verification.
Let’s learn why age verification matters to online businesses.
It Is Legally Required to Offer Certain Products and Services.
One of the most common reasons to verify a user’s age is to verify that they’re old enough to view age-restricted content. This could be anything from adult webcams to violent video games to the ecommerce portion of a vaping website. In many countries, verify a users age to prove they’re old enough to buy the product is legally necessary to be allowed to run your website.
It Reduces the Risk of Identity Theft.
Age verification systems can reduce the risk of identity theft. For example, facial recognition systems built into advanced age verification tools can tell when a minor is trying to use a parent’s ID to try to buy something online. Now you’ve prevented an illegal sale to someone using the ID of a legal buyer. You’ll also prevent the sale of items to an unrelated adult who stole someone else’s wallet. A roommate or thief can’t pass the facial recognition check to use that person’s ID to buy age-restricted items online, even if they have a valid credit card number.
It Simplifies Account Maintenance.
Website administrators face an uphill battle protecting their websites from malware and viruses. Then they have the ongoing work of administering user accounts. It is hard enough to purge trolls harassing other users in online forums or follow up on user errors. Automated age verification eliminates the need to verify users’ ages before they set up an account. It also eliminates the hassle of trying to limit data collection for minor children on the site while collecting significant information about your user base. If you take reasonable steps to prevent minors from ever creating an account, your admin only has to purge accounts for violating the terms of service. And this includes the rare minor who manages to evade the age verification system. Or you need to worry about various government regulations regarding user privacy like COPPA in the United States and GDPR in the European Union.
You can take identification verification to a higher level by requiring valid phone numbers and mailing addresses, as well. This information gives you another way to verify someone’s identity without requiring them to answer security questions that they may forget the answer to the next time they log in. After all, they may change their mind regarding the name of their favorite pet or forget the model of their first car.
Don’t forget to add Captchas and other human tests to prevent automated systems from creating a large number of accounts. This prevents someone from creating dozens of accounts on your system using stolen credentials. Note that this doesn’t eliminate the need to monitor user behavior. If one IP address is creating an account a minute using passports and drivers’ licenses, every account they create is problematic.