The Postal Service holds information that put to use in helping other agencies in verifying identities of members of the public as a tool against improper payments, an inspector general report has said.
“As government and commercial actors implement new identity verification strategies and partnerships, a window of opportunity is currently open for the Postal Service to respond to their needs for more secure verification and to better serve all citizens,” the report said. The USPS has assets that could be put to fuller use including its extensive retail network, databases of the nation’s addresses, and its own experience with identity verification, it said.
For example, it said the USPS could gradually extend its exiting in-person proofing capabilities to other agencies to “provide a fallback option for government customers who have failed remote identification verification or prefer in-person interaction.” That also “would increase convenience for citizens completing transactions that need high levels of identity assurance” and help victims of identity fraud to reestablish their identity credentials and regain access to their government accounts, it said.
Also, with consent of the individual, the USPS could provide name/address validation services that “would help increase the confidence of government agencies and their verification partners that a user creating an online account is who they claim to be.” The USPS further could explore whether and how its 47 million subscribers to its “informed delivery” service could use those credentials to prove their identity in creating and accessing other government accounts, it said.
The report said that such programs could be funded by fees paid by other agencies and noted that the recently enacted Postal Service Reform Act expanded the leeway has for USPS to provide non-postal such as identity verification.