In this blog, I interview Christie Lewis, who has recently joined the TrustID client services team from UK Border Force, bringing extensive document expertise and experience with her. Christie talks about life checking documents at the border, explores the topic of fake identity documents and explains more about her role in the TrustID team...
Q: Tell us about your background with document checks?
CL: "I’ve always been interested in all things ‘fraud’ and 'investigative'. My degree is in Forensic and Investigative Studies and when I graduated, it was a natural progression to join the Police. From there, I was lucky enough to join UK Border Force, which was a perfect combination of my interest in travel and my interest in fraud. I spent 2 ½ years working at the Border at Heathrow and saw all kinds of documents from all over the world. Part of my role there was to detect those people using deception to gain entry into the UK – whether this was through sham marriages, counterfeit documents or fabricated stories. It was fascinating to build up my knowledge about such a huge range of identity documents, how they should look and feel, and also to help spot trends and patterns that might highlight someone who was likely to be trying to deceive the Border Force team."
Q: How big do you think the problem of fake identity documents really is?
CL: "At the border, the level of checks that are run on documents is really high. Generally, people know that and so they would usually present authentic documents but perhaps tell you a false story about their purpose for entering the UK. The quality of any fake documents that we did see was very high but likewise, the Border Force team are highly trained and dedicated and gain experience every day on the job by touching and seeing documents and using intuition when something just ‘feels wrong’. Since I’ve joined TrustID, however, I have seen a steady and regular flow of fraudulent documents from our customers. The number of fakes that the TrustID system uncovers is pretty impressive and has highlighted just how big an issue it is in-country. I would imagine that a high number of these people have entered on legitimate documents and have obtained fraudulent IDs, licences or passports once in the UK. As the quality of the documents purchased is quite low, they are banking on the fact that (unlike at the border) the average person isn’t trained and won’t make any real checks so they are far less likely to get caught. "
Q: How do you think solutions like TrustID help in the fight against document fraud?
CL: I honestly think it’s unrealistic to expect someone in a recruitment role to be a document expert. In the 2 ½ years that I was in the Border Force, I was learning and building on my document knowledge every day. I had colleagues who had been there for longer than I had but they too were still being trained and learning every week. The TrustID check reduces the need to turn recruitment or HR teams into document experts; they don’t need to be constantly kept up to date on the huge range of ever-evolving identity documents. The technology gives our customers peace of mind that they are protecting their business, that they are compliant and that they have the greatest chance of spotting a fraudulent document should someone present one. And the link to the Amberhill team (which Gavin used to part of) is also a huge plus to spot identity documents that have been altered or genuine documents which were obtained fraudulently. Of course, it doesn’t take away the need for vigilance - for example, it’s still critical to take a good look at the document holder to make sure that they are the person in the photo (we’ve had a couple of ‘imposter’ documents since I’ve joined). But I think it’s a huge step forward for any business and the number of fakes I’ve seen in the few months definitely shows a need for document checks no matter what business you’re in. "
Q: What is your role going to be within TrustID?
CL: "As Client Services Manager, I’m basically here to support our customers – both new and existing. I’ll be working on installing systems and making sure that they fit the needs of each individual organisation as well as training users so that they get the most from the system. The other side of my role will be to help spot fraud trends and sharing my document expertise with our customers, helping them to know what to look for in a document and supporting them if they have any document queries. I’m really excited about the role and I’m really enthusiastic about what I think we can achieve as companies become more aware of their need to routinely check documents."
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