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Selfie videos will soon be required to file tax returns

If you created an online account to manage your tax records with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), your login credentials for this year will no longer work. The department has developed a new system for logging into user accounts, writes Krebs on Security.

Photo: Shutterstock

The IRS said that by the summer of 2022, the only way to enter irs.gov will ID.me. This is an online identity verification service that requires applicants to provide copies of invoices and identification documents, as well as a video image of the face via a mobile device.

Based in McLean, Virginia, ID.me was originally launched in 2010 to help e-commerce sites verify the identity of customers who may be eligible for discounts at various retail locations.

These days, ID.me is perhaps better known as the online identity verification service many states now use. Such an innovation could prevent the loss of billions of dollars in unemployment insurance and pandemic assistance that identity thieves steal every year. The private company says it has about 64 million users, with about 145 more joining every day.

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Some 27 states are already using ID.me to identify identity thieves claiming benefits under someone else's name, and now the IRS is joining them. The service requires applicants to provide much more information than is normally required for online verification schemes. For example, scans of their driver's license or other ID, copies of utility or insurance bills, and details of their mobile phone services.

If an applicant does not have one or more of the above documents (or if something in their application raises potential signs of fraud), ID.me may require a live video of the face to be recorded.

How to create an ID.me account

An important preface to this walkthrough is that in order to verify identity using ID.me You need the ability to take a live video selfie, either with the camera on your mobile device or with a webcam connected to your computer.

In addition, successfully verifying your identity with ID.me can take a significant amount of time and patience. For example, stepping back from one part of the multi-step application process for just over five minutes would require another login and then resubmission of the documents that were previously uploaded.

After entering your email address and choosing a password, you will be asked to verify your email address by clicking on a link sent to your email. Once verified, ID.me prompts users to select the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) option.

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MFA options range from a six-digit code sent via text message or phone call to code generator and security key apps.

ID.me even offers its own proprietary one-time code generation app that is capable of "sending" a request to your mobile device so you can verify whenever you log in.

When the MFA option is verified, the system generates a one-time backup code and offers to save it in a safe place in case your chosen MFA option is not available when you try to use a service that requires ID.me.

Applicants are then asked to upload images of their driver's license, ID card or passport, either via a saved file or by scanning them with a webcam or mobile device.

If your documents are accepted, ID.me will prompt you to take a live selfie using your mobile device or webcam. This may take several tries. When the program accepts the video, ID.me will start comparing the result with the images on the document scans.

ID.me will then require you to verify your phone number. That is, a request will be sent to your mobile or landline carrier asking you to confirm that you are indeed an existing paying customer who can be contacted on this number. ID.me states that it does not currently accept phone numbers associated with voice services such as Google Voice and Skype.

If the system freezes, you may receive an email with a link to complete the verification process via live video chat.

When the application is finally approved, you can go to irs.gov and log into your new account through ID.me, giving the IRS access to the personal data you shared with ID.me.

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In the U.S. IRS (Internal Revenue Service)
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