I Am Who I Am, or Proving My Identity
by Graham Caplin – 3rd January, 2018
We like to think that we’ve made the process of hiring equipment as easy as possible. But even so we’re always looking at ways to improve without compromising the information we give to our customers, or maintaining our security. However to simplify things in the long-term, we have to check the identity of all first-time customers. In this article I’ll explain the steps we take before a first-time hire, and why we do this.
Why we check your identity
Our equipment is expensive to buy. This is why customers hire from us rather than purchasing their own kit. For example, each Sennheiser radio mic system with the cabling, flight case and licensing costs can run to around £800 + VAT. So you can see that the replacement value for even a modest hire can be quite substantial. And unfortunately hire companies such as Radio Facilities are increasingly being targeted by thieves and scams, in an attempt to steal equipment and sell it on elsewhere. We’ve learned the hard way that it pays to be cautious at first in order to build up a reliable and trustworthy customer base.
What we’ll ask of you
We’ll always ask you to sign a hire agreement. This is standard for every type of hire you can think of, from car hire to property rental. But what steps do we take to protect the company from thieves? The first thing we ask every new customer for is some basic proof of identity. For business customers, schools and charities we’ll ask for two proofs of the company’s address. These could be utility bills, bank statements, a certificate of incorporation or even supplier invoices. The important thing is that they are recent – no more than three months old – and were received through the post at the company address.
For personal customers we’ll ask for one form of photo identity – such as the photo section of a driving licence or passport – and one proof of the customer’s home address. Again, a utility bill or bank statement is perfect. For both new personal and business customers, we’re checking to see that you are who you say you are, and where you say you are.
What we do behind the scenes
The second test we carry out is an online verification check. For businesses we’ll look at the data held at Companies House to ensure that there are no areas of concern. These could include a company that is newly incorporated, has recently stopped trading, or a has quoted address which differs from the one shown on the company’s profile. Ideally we want to see a landline, as well as an email in a format similar to [email protected], rather than a gmail or yahoo account. We’re also reluctant to hire to so-called ‘phoenix companies’, or those with county court judgements. Sometimes we need to deal with a company director, to make sure they’re happy with the risk that their company is taking by hiring high-value equipment
For personal customers we look at various online services including 192.com, which helps verify that customers are at the address they’ve provided. We may also carry out a LexisNexis IDU search to check several areas including the electoral roll and credit data. These are good ways of proving someone’s identity. We can’t see customer’s credit details, so any sensitive information is safely hidden. But checking against credit data does leave a record on the credit file to show that we have carried out a search. This has no affect at all on the customer’s credit score. It seems like a lot of effort, sure. But when you consider that the level of theft from hire companies is on the rise, it’s easy to see why we carry out these checks.
In short, when you hire from us for the first time we’ll ask you to provide two proofs of your identity and sign a hire agreement. And following your first successful hire, you should never need to prove your ID to us again. We think it’s a pretty civilised way to do business, which makes the whole process of getting the equipment you need as simple as possible.
If you have any questions about our hiring process, you can call us on 020 3355 8188, or visit: radiofacilities.com/terms-of-hire/.