Graphic courtesy ID.me

Get veteran discounts without sharing your personal information with ID.me

February 06, 2018 - 5:07 pm
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Have you ever wanted to take advantage of online discounts but didn’t want to hand over your DD-214? One company created an online solution so you can verify your veteran status without risking your personal information.

Blake Hall is a U.S. Army combat veteran and Airborne Ranger who led a reconnaissance platoon in Iraq from 2006-2007 with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division based at Fort Lewis, Washington.

He was inspired to create ID.me after he realized that veterans who wanted to take advantage of Veteran’s Day retail discounts-- such as a free blooming onion at Outback Steakhouse--were showing sensitive personal information to do so.

“That just didn’t make sense that you would show your social [security number] to a stranger to get a fried onion, and that was part of the reason why I set out on this journey to start ID.me in the first place,” he said.

This is also a serious security issue because the veteran population has twice the rate of identity theft compared to the average American, according to Hall.

Retailers initially approached the company because they wanted to reach groups like students or the military in order to offer discounts, but had no way to verify the customer’s identity online, Hall said.

“So ID.me provides a digital way—think of us almost like PayPal for identity. We’re a trusted third party for these merchants, that once a person verifies that they are a veteran, that status is tied to our single sign on in the same way that PayPal ties a credit card or a debit card from a bank to their single sign on to complete payments.”

Once the veteran is verified, “Then every other retailer or website that accepts ID.me you can very rapidly prove your military service,” he said.

“It’s helping a person and an organization interact in a trusted way and also in an efficient way where veterans don’t have to show something like a DD-214 or upload it to a website every time they want to access a military discount,” Hall added.

Retailers listed on the site that veterans can shop at with their ID.me profile include Under Armour, Lenovo, Target, and NFL Shop.

After having success online, “a lot of retailers are now bringing us in store, so we’re doing some things with Sunglass Hut and Academy Sports and those programs have been really successful as well,” Hall said.

They are currently at around 5.3 million users of ID.me, which includes verifying 66 percent of the active duty community, Hall said. Over the past month, about 6-8,000 veterans were signing up for an account every day.

To verify your status as a veteran, you will need to create an account on ID.me and then fill out information regarding your service history. ID.me will then verify it against an
“authoritative database,” Hall said, and once complete the veteran can then take advantage of the multiple retail and government agencies who use the platform to verify customers.

One of the several participating federal and state agencies that uses ID.me is the Department of Veterans Affairs. When you need to access your VA records online at Vets.gov, you can verify your identity with your ID.me login.

“There’s so much good will and we’re trying to make it easier for veterans to both find programs that are meant for them and to sort through that,” Hall said he wanted veterans to know about ID.me. “And then when they want to get access to those benefits to make it easier for them to do that while also keeping their information secure.”

For service members and veterans who may be skeptical about ID.me protecting their identity, Hall said that the "military community is literally family to me.”

“We take that really, really seriously the responsibility of securing information. And the other part is that our view is that the data is always under the control of the user, so we never share data without the explicit consent of the user and that’s also just an important part of our DNA,” he said. “And I think we can’t reemphasize that point enough.”