In today’s digital landscape, businesses must adapt to an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Now more than ever, companies across sectors face growing liability risks if they fail to verify the age of customers accessing age-restricted products and services.
Implementing reliable age verification systems has become a necessity to reduce legal exposure. However, the benefits extend far beyond risk mitigation. Automating age verification through digital solutions also enhances operational efficiency.
Let’s explore how age verification systems help businesses on multiple fronts.
The Evolving Business Landscape Calls for Proactive Measures
Recent years have witnessed an exponential increase in cyber threats and data breaches impacting companies across the board. In 2022 alone, the US saw a shocking 1802 data compromises that exposed the personal information of over 422 million individuals.
These alarming statistics highlight the digital vulnerabilities that businesses now face across sectors. As company systems and customer data increasingly move online, the risks of security incidents and cybercrimes have also significantly increased.
Without adequate verification mechanisms in place, businesses struggle to reliably validate customer identities and restrict access to age-restricted products and services.
Industries like tobacco, alcohol, gaming, and adult entertainment bear a greater compliance burden due to their age-restricted offerings. However, even sectors like healthcare, financial services, and retail frequently handle sensitive personal data, necessitating strong identity verification processes.
Some of the key factors contributing to the rising data security challenges include:
- Exponential growth in online transactions and access points
- Increasing use of cloud computing systems that rely on usernames and passwords
- Lack of consumer awareness around cyber risks
- Highly sophisticated phishing and malware campaigns targeting businesses
- Insufficient investment in cybersecurity measures by companies
This fast-evolving landscape requires businesses to take a proactive stance when it comes to verification mechanisms. Implementing a reliable and robust age verification system can help companies get ahead of constantly evolving threats. It enables greater compliance, enhances data security, protects consumer rights, and builds customer trust.
Reducing Legal Risks and Financial Liabilities
When underage individuals gain access to age-restricted products and services, businesses can face substantial legal and financial risks, including:
- Fines and penalties for non-compliance with local and federal age restriction laws
- Lawsuits, legal fees, and settlement costs in cases filed by regulatory bodies or affected parties
- Suspension or cancellation of operating licenses and certifications
- Loss of government contracts or sponsorships
- Public scandals that irreparably damage brand reputation
According to cyber insurance provider CyberClaims, US companies incur average financial losses of $200,000 from cybersecurity incidents. For small businesses with revenues under $5 million, these losses can reach up to a crippling $683,000.
Some recent examples of legal action and settlements against companies with ineffective age verification include:
- JUUL Labs agreeing to pay $438.5 million in a settlement over allegations of misleading marketing and underage targeting.
- Grindr facing an $11.7 million penalty from Norwegian regulators for illegally disclosing personal data of underage users.
- The FTC fining hyperbeast.com $450,000 for collecting data of underage users without parental consent.
Data breaches arise from a variety of causes. As illustrated in the chart below, analysis by IBM reveals phishing, ransomware, and human errors to be the primary culprits behind breaches in 2021.
Robust age verification systems can help companies significantly reduce these substantial liabilities by:
- Ensuring Compliance: Automated age checks enable businesses to easily adhere to the legal age restrictions and regulations of their industry. This minimizes the risk of inadvertent compliance violations.
- Limiting Legal Exposure: Reliable identity and age verification minimizes the risks of legal disputes or allegations in case of controversies. Demonstrating due diligence helps businesses avoid charges of negligence.
- Boosting Data Security: Advanced age verification technology using AI and multi-factor authentication combats data breaches, identity theft, and cyber fraud by validating user identities. This enhances data protection across the business.
The risks of non-compliance and cyber incidents can have long-term financial impacts that threaten business continuity. Investing in age verification helps mitigate these risks right from the start.
Driving Efficiency Through Process Automation
Manual age verification via physical IDs creates operational bottlenecks. Employees spend excessive time scrutinizing documents, entering data, and addressing exceptions.
Automating the process through digital systems delivers:
- Faster customer onboarding: Instant age checks facilitate quick customer sign-ups.
- Lower operational costs: Businesses save time and personnel costs with automated verification.
- Enhanced productivity: Eliminating manual tasks enables staff to focus on high-value responsibilities.
- Smooth experiences: Automation removes friction from the customer journey.
Building Customer Trust in an Age of Data Breaches
In 2020 alone, major companies like MGM Resorts, CAM4, and Finastra suffered data breaches exposing millions of customer records. Such incidents exemplify the loss of public trust in data security.
Age verification mechanisms help demonstrate a commitment to ethical practices and customer well-being. Companies that responsibly handle personal data through encryption, minimal access, and consent gain consumer confidence.
Further, reliable age verification:
- Shows respect for privacy boundaries.
- Provides assurance against identity theft and fraud.
- Indicates care for vulnerable groups like children.
Proactive age verification enables businesses to align with shifting consumer expectations around ethics and transparency.
Implementing Secure and Seamless Age Verification Systems
To maximize benefits, businesses must implement age verification solutions that balance security, compliance and user experience. Here are best practices to consider:
- Use multi-factor authentication: Verify identities via multiple data points like biometrics, government IDs, and artificial intelligence to enhance accuracy.
- Employ encryption and minimal data storage: Follow data security best practices around encryption, access limitation, and data retention periods.
- Offer self-service options: Allow users to self-verify through online portals for swift onboarding.
- Provide choice and transparency: Allow users control over data sharing while being transparent about verification processes.
- Optimize for mobile: Build omnichannel verifications that work seamlessly across devices.
- Monitor system performance: Continuously track verification times, approval rates, data trends to identify areas for optimization.
How does age verification impact customer experience?
While security is vital, ease of use is equally important. Advanced age verification solutions use technologies like AI and biometrics to deliver seamless customer experiences. Most checks take less than a second.
What are the risks of ineffective age verification?
Insufficient age verification can open businesses up to substantial penalties, lawsuits, and licenses suspensions. It also enables misconduct such as underage access and identity fraud.
What are some examples of age verification in action?
Industries like retail, transport, and delivery frequently use age verification to control access to age-restricted items. Many online platforms also use age checks to monitor content consumption and prevent underage sign-ups.
The Bottom Line
Age verification systems provide multifaceted benefits that cut across compliance, operations, security, and customer experience. While investments are necessary, the long-term payoff for businesses is invaluable.
Proactively adopting age verification solutions enables companies to reduce legal liabilities, drive efficiency through automation, enhance data protection, and build customer trust.
In a complex digital business landscape, age verification has become a competitive necessity rather than just a compliance checkbox. Investing in robust and ethical age verification systems can help future-proof companies for the challenges ahead.