Serial South African technology entrepreneur Vinny Lingham — the man behind Yola and Gyft and a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative — has just gone live with his latest venture, Civic.
Lingham, who now lives in San Francisco, in 2014 flipped Gyft, an online gift card service, to First Data for a rumoured US$54m.
Lingham’s new business is meant to help people manage their identity and stop identity fraud before it happens.
The service is not available in South Africa yet, with a local launch only likely in late 2017 or early 2018, he said. For now, it’s available only in the US.
Upon sign-up, Civic members instantly receive a $1m identity theft protection policy, for the life of their free membership to Civic.
Citing research from Javelin’s 2016 Identity Fraud: Fraud Hits an Inflection Point report, Civic said there are 13,1m fraud victims in the US, with a 113% increase in new account fraud in 2015 alone.
“Civic plans to combat this issue by providing its members with the ability to respond to instant alerts whenever their identity is being used,” the company said in a statement.
“Civic believes that the rise in identity fraud has become such a public concern that the only solution is for consumers to become proactively involved the moment their personal information is used instead of fixing the problems after they have occurred.”
It sends a push notification via its app or an e-mail via the online service when a member’s US social security number is being used with one of Civic’s partners.
“The e-mail will appear in real time, alerting the member the moment a new account is being opened. The alert will provide information on where the social security number is being used, giving members the ability to call and report the fraud before the new account has been processed.”
Civic goes a step further and provides members the ability to approve or deny a transaction taking place with the push of a button.
“Civic has engineered a two-way authentication process whereby it verifies both the user to institution and the institution to the user, providing end-to-end protection for both parties while maintaining user privacy,” it said in the statement.
“Institutions that pay Civic a small fee will be a part of the two-way authentication process and will be alerted when a user denies a transaction, allowing them to instantly stop the fraud.”
Part of the free membership to Civic also includes a programme that gives members free access to identity theft consultants via a hotline. These experts will be available 24/7 and provide guidance to Civic members through various identity theft situations, including document replacement, e-mail compromise, employment ID theft, financial ID theft and tax ID theft.
Civic raised almost $2,8m in seed funding in February and is currently in the process of signing partners from industries that use a social security number as a form of identification. Civic’s first partners include background check technology start-ups GoodHire and Onfido. – © 2016 NewsCentral Media