The embattled identity verification provider ID.me is once again making headlines after announcing that it has fired more than half of its fraud review team. The company claims that the firings are unrelated to the recently-initiated Congressional investigation, stating instead that the employees were fired for “inappropriate internal communications.”
As Reuters reports, the layoffs hit 39 employees in total, out of a 70-person fraud review squad. The team is responsible for resolving cases that cannot be cleared with the company’s automated identity verification software, and cases in which the user would prefer a manual review.
According to some of the fired staff, the employees that are still with the company will need to deal with a heavier case load, which will increase wait times for the average user. ID.me, on the other hand, argued that those concerns are exaggerated, and that it will be reassigning some of its remaining 1,400 employees to the fraud department to handle the shortfall. The company also indicated that traffic is down since the end of tax season in the United States.
As it stands, ID.me stated that the typical wait time is less than 30 minutes, and has been for several months. In ID.me’s telling, the former members of the fraud review team were sharing communications that were disrespectful to their colleagues. Those employees claim that they were only sharing jokes and expressing regular workplace frustrations on an internal group chat, although they acknowledge that they would post rat emojis to notify one another when managers were in the area. The managers were ostensibly monitoring employees to make sure they were not using personal devices or engaging in other behavior that poses a legitimate security risk when dealing with sensitive personal information.
ID.me is planning to strengthen its training program and adopt stricter procedures to govern such behaviors moving forward. The company rose to prominence during the pandemic, when it provided identity verification services for US states looking to clamp down on unemployment fraud. The company was also announced as the official identity partner for the IRS, though its use of facial recognition technology ultimately triggered a backlash that prompted the IRS to backtrack on its decision and led directly to the new Congressional investigation.
May 6, 2022 – by Eric Weiss