Age Verification: Safeguarding Kids From Restricted Products

Age Verification: Safeguarding Kids From Restricted Products

Children as young as 12 are manipulating the online delivery systems to get access to alcohol and cigarettes. Online delivery systems are sending age-restricted products to teens and minors without proper age verification checks. According to a report, one in every three kids is buying booze off the internet.

Underage teens and kids are bypassing the online systems by typing in a fake birthday into websites. These websites don’t have robust age verification software which is why it becomes remarkably easy for teens to access age-restricted goods, including wine, beer, cigarettes, vapes, tobacco, and spirits.

According to NHS survey of smoking, drinking and drug use among school children (11 to 15-year-olds) in England -in 2016, three percent said they were regular smokers, 74 percent said they find it very hard to give up smoking and 6 percent said they were currently daily e-cigarette smokers.

New research, done by Alcohol Research and Education and La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research shows that one in three people under the age of 25 were not asked for identification when they got their products online. Twelve percent of the people surveyed said they received their alcohol deliveries in person and were not asked for identification.

The Necessity of Digital Age Verification

Online e-commerce websites have pop-ups that ask whether the person is over 18 or not. Anyone can simply check the box and get access to the website. Without precise age verification practices, retailers offering age-exclusive products can face serious repercussions in the form of bad PR, legal consequences including fines. This is why robust age verification services for adult-oriented online businesses are in high need. With advancements in technology, better age verification system providers are getting better.

Absence of Age Verification Systems

The absence of proper age verification systems is detrimental to online retailers. This is because of the strict regulations around the online sale of age-restricted products. According to the UK’s Digital Economy Act 2017, the commercially operated age-restricted stores must guarantee that their users are 18+. In the case of non-compliance, the regulators are authorized to fine them up to £250,000 (or up to 5% of their turnover) and direct the blocking of non-compliant websites.

Steps Unlikely to Perform Age-Verification

Online retailers and merchants are legally obliged to perform precise and robust age verification on their customers. A lot of websites don’t have proper age verification systems in place. Instead, they have systems put in place only for formalities. A number of things don’t satisfy the due diligence which are:

  • Entrusting the buyer to verify if they are of legal age
  • Asking the date of birth only at the time of purchase
  • Use of tick boxes to ask buyers to prove they are of age
  • Use of an ‘accept’ statement for the purchaser to confirm that they have read the terms and conditions and are over the minimum age

In order to make sure your business is compliant with regulations, it becomes imperative for online retailers to have proper age verification systems in place. In case of improper age verification services, online retailers can face penalties.

How Do Age Verification Services Work?

Age Verification Software is a combination of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning to establish the age of consumers. The combination of all these technologies results in an almost always accurate result. The process works by first capturing the ID document and then obtaining the data through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. The data and documents are then confirmed in real-time. Due to age verification services, it becomes almost impossible for minors to use their parents’ IDs or use fake IDs to access age-restricted websites and businesses.

Age verification should also be done at the time of delivering the products. This is because underage teens and minors can ask someone else to buy these age-restricted products for them. So, it becomes imperative for retailers to have a strict age verification process at the time of delivery as well. This will help the retailers restrict their products to adults only which in turn protects them from legal consequences. On the other hand, minors are also protected against harmful substances that isn’t suitable for them. 

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