Gumtree is rolling out bank-style ID verification – for sellers and buyers

Business Insider SA
Gumtree verification
  • Classifieds giant Gumtree is rolling out ID verification – for both buyers and sellers.
  • The optional step uses a cellphone selfie to check a face against the national ID database, in the same way banks can now verify identities.
  • The system has been in testing for five months, and is now ready for general use, Gumtree says.
  • Buyers will be able to filter search results to only see offers from verified people.
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Online classifieds giant Gumtree – a perennial favourite starting point for fraudsters and scammers – is rolling out identity verification for sellers, and says it will soon open up the option to buyers too.

The system is similar to that now in use by banks for opening accounts without ever having to visit a branch: you provide your ID number and take a selfie, and that is matched to the government database of identity photos. The process should take under two minutes, unless the automated attempt at matching fails, and manual verification is required.

Users who complete the process get a badge with an explanation of the process on their profiles, and the icon is also prominently displayed in search results.

Gumtree verification badge

Buyers will be able to filter search results to include only those from verified sellers, Gumtree says.

Sellers with high-value items may also choose to pre-filter buyers in the same way, especially for cash transactions.

The verification process is handled by credit bureau XDS, and Gumtree itself does not store photos or other information, and ID numbers are not displayed on the site.

While the process does nothing to verify the goods on offer, it does provide the reassurance that you are dealing with a real person, says Gumtree, in an online environment where identity fraud is prevalent. 

Gumtree started testing the feature with a friends-and-family group in August 2021, and has since extended it via email invitations. The option to verify is now becoming available to additional users via their profile pages.

An ID number can only be associated with one Gumtree account, the company says, and the association is permanent once verified. That should block buyers and sellers from shucking a history of bad reviews by creating new accounts on the same platform.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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