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ICBC's facial recognition technology protects customers by identifying fraud

February 23, 2011

Two years after it was introduced, ICBC's use of facial recognition technology has had a dramatic impact on helping to protect our customers from identity theft and fraud.

In 2010, the technology — which enables ICBC to compare a cardholder's image with their existing image on file and with an entire database of millions of images — played a vital role in a number of convictions. The technology works by analyzing facial characteristics that do not change, such as the size and location of cheekbones and the distance between the eyes.

"We've always been proud of the security of our driver licensing system but facial recognition technology has taken us to a new level in protecting our customers," said Fred Hess, vice president of driver licensing at ICBC. "We're now at the forefront of identity protection."

Here are a few of the many cases of identity theft and fraud that we uncovered in 2010 through the use of facial recognition technology:

"Facial recognition technology is now enabling security checks that were not previously possible and helping to uncover fraud that would not have come to light without it," said Ben Shotton, ICBC's manager of driver licensing integrity. "It's unlikely that any of these charges and convictions would have happened without facial recognition technology so it's clear that it's helping to protect our customers."

"We invest approximately $8 million in fraud and investigate thousands of cases each year because we're dedicated to protecting our customers against fraudulent acts," said Shotton.

ICBC first began using facial recognition technology in late 2008, shortly before launching a new B.C. driver's licence in February 2009. The new high-tech licences are harder to alter, forge or obtain using different identities.

Media Contacts:

Adam Grossman