Candidate needs checking? Give them The 3rd Degree

New Zealand Security Magazine - February-March 2024

Identity and background checking have just got a lot simpler.

Amid growth in identity theft and synthetic identities, New Zealand background checking provider The 3rd Degree has launched a digital biometric system that makes identity and background checking simpler, safer, and paperless.

“With many years of experience in both the public and private sector, it was apparent to us that identity and background checks of employment applicants was a time consuming and somewhat unreliable process for employers and recruiters”, The 3rd Degree’s Managing Director Michael Reeves told NZSM.

“Our aim was to eliminate the often-manual systems involving multiple organisations and individuals. These were disjointed, time consuming, and had the potential for multiple mistakes and omissions, slowing the process down even further,” he said.

The 3rd Degree platform provides paperless cross-checked identity and background verification that speeds up the traditionally clunky checking process and – importantly – mitigates risks. The platform is available direct to end-user organisations and as a white-labelled solution to providers of security and investigations services.

View this article in the New Zealand Security Magazine February-March 2024 downloadable digital edition…

The Risks

“There are currently thousands of false identities in New Zealand and many individuals purporting to have qualifications that they do not have, with the risks that entails,” said Michael. “Without robust verification checks, false identities can very easily slip through an onboarding process and create significant problems and risks for organisations, whether they are large or small businesses or non-profit organisations.”

At the source of the false identity supply chain is identity theft – and recent years have seen some massive cases of theft. In 2007, Sony had 45 million identities stolen, including their credit information, and in 2011 had another 77 million complete identities stolen.

Closer to home, in 2023 an Australian corporate, had the identities of several million of their Australian and New Zealand customers compromised, including details of hundreds of thousands of driver’s licenses, passports, and credit cards. 

Additionally, says Michael, synthetic Identitieshave become a new growth phenomenon. “This is a type of fraud where criminals or government actors combine fake (virtual) or real information to create new false identities,” he said, “often using these to open fake accounts, make purchases and apply for credit.”

Many financial institutions and commercial enterprises are unprepared for synthetic identities, with the vast majority of institutions and businesses being unaware of this new phenomenon.

“We’ve all heard of high-profile cases where people have mis-represented themselves,” said Michael, “but it doesn’t have to be headline grabbing to be of damage to your business or organisation.

The Solution

Having built the Comprendé digital verification platform, which enables lenders to conduct identity, international AML, credit, address, and serviceability checks, Michael and his team realised that other industries stood to benefit from the efficiency and security of digital onboarding.

“While the digital world has made it easier for those wanting to hide or change their identity, it has also made it easier for The 3rd Degree platform to perform background checks efficiently, with minimal fuss,” Michael explained.

“Utilising digital biometric facial recognition technology, the system firstly confirms the identity of an applicant, all with the applicant simply using an encrypted invitation received on their smartphone,” he said.

“Two minutes later, with the Applicant’s full authority, we then digitally provide cross-checked confirmation of identity, proof of address, credit check, criminal background check, and confirmation of driver’s license status – all digital and paperless. To ensure our own data security, the system is fully encrypted, and we automatically delete the data multiple times per month.” 

The 3rd Degree system offers a raft of unique advantages:

  • Time Saving: speeds the process up substantially, allowing the Employer to make fast, educated decisions around potential candidates.
  • Cost Savings: quick and very easy for both the employer and the candidate, with the latter using their smart phone to complete the process in a matter of minutes.
  • Security and Peace of Mind:  all data is cross-referenced, mitigating risks, and providing the Employer peace of mind.

The 3rd Degree platform can be used seamlessly by providers of security services, such as security consultancies, to conduct checks of applicants/candidates on behalf of customer organisations. In an employment vetting scenario, the consultant sends an invitation to the applicant via the platform on behalf of the prospective employer, with the fully digitised process completed within minutes.

In addition vetting of employees, contractors, voluntary workers, or tenants, The 3rd Degree can also complete vetting of individuals responsible for the care of children or vulnerable persons.

The 3rd Degree transforms what is presently a manual, analogue time-consuming task, to a time-saving digital and paperless process available to businesses, volunteer organisations and statutory authorities throughout New Zealand. For more information about The 3rd Degree, visit