Can’t get a government website to validate you? Here is possibly why.

I’ve had multiple problems with multiple State of Washington or Government websites in the last year. Strange, inscrutable errors when trying to validate my identity, with no clear solutions.

Trying to get my updated social security info? It’s right there on the website. Except that the website won’t let me log in. I get a weird error. So, I have to go to the office to wait in line and talk to a person.

Trying to sign up on the state health care exchange? The dreaded: “Due to No Security Question Answer available. null” error. That error is well documented on the internet. The solution suggested every time? Upload all your documents to the website. That answer is wrong. In both cases, the government was trying to contact a credit bureau to get your personal information to test you on your knowledge about yourself.

I figured this out too late for the social security office, but figured it out for the health care exchange.

I froze my credit. You should too. It is a good (not perfect) guard against identity theft.

However, that frozen credit prevents anyone from trying to use your credit history information to validate your identity. This isn’t a great way to validate identity anyway since a lot of that information is available publicly.

The only solutions are to deal with their support teams (the front line folks never know about this and so you need to explain it to them), go to an office and wait in line to show them a physical ID, or temporarily unfreeze your credit.

Luckily, the credit bureau sites let you easily unfreeze your credit temporarily. However, that is a very poor security solution, since it is a blanket unfreezing. That is bad if you are doing it to apply for a new credit card. It is even worse if you are using it for ID Validation on some random website. In the case of the government sites, I couldn’t tell which credit bureau they were using, so I had to unfreeze all of them. Really bad.

We need better identity validation solutions that work securely over the internet for government to use. Luckily, I’m now in a position to help.