multi-sourced customer authentication



Timely and accurate identification of both gone away and deceased individuals has always been of paramount importance, for a variety of universally accepted reasons.

Poor hygiene screening can have many consequences, including: –

  • reputational damage to your business
  • wastage of marketing budget
  • alienation and loss of customers
  • the removal of active customers

In addition, effective mortality screening can prevent distress to the spouse of deceased, or any other member of the household.

In this post-GDPR era the commercial consequences of getting this critical process wrong are greater than ever, and include potential ICO-levied fines of 2% or 4% of worldwide annual turnover.

Those with any experience of data hygiene will know that there are a small number of well-established and trusted suppression files which can identify and screen out the records of gone away or deceased customers, donors and prospects.

Less understood is the fact is that no one file has the capacity to detect and capture every instance of a death or home move throughout the country. In addition to this, some of these files include data dating back more than two decades, with a few containing more records than the entire population of the United Kingdom. Making the potential for inaccurate matches a significant concern.

For this compelling reason, no file should be used in isolation.  However, it is still the case that some organisations will elect – or be persuaded – to entrust the task of data hygiene to just one suppression file. And selection decisions can be influenced by a range of factors, from the sheer volume of data available, and file build methodology through to brand and price.

The focus should be about veracity, not brand, and certainly not about price. When it comes to the world of data (and it’s a pretty big world) determining whether someone is still alive, and residing at the address stated, is as important as it gets.

A potential dilemma

The contention that a single file cannot pick up every deceased record is not based on speculation or a narrow body of opinion. It’s based on exhaustive analysis undertaken by countless organisations which has demonstrated that, whilst a proportion of data is common to all suppression files, each can clearly evidence a number of records which are entirely unique. These unique data sets might vary in size from one file to another, but each plays a vital role by removing potential blind spots.

Precluding one of the main files from your mortality screening routine exposes your business to risk. If the scale of unique data amounted to just 1% (and no file has a mere 1% of unique data) this would equate to around 6,000* deceased records going undetected. If just a handful of these records is sitting on your database, imagine the consequences of not knowing

* ONS Death Statistics for 2019; England and Wales 530,841. Scotland 58,108

The Solution

Since each of the main files makes an invaluable contribution, it doesn’t make sense to take the deselection route.

The Unifi solution provides a composite of the leading deceased and gone-away data files, to deliver the fullest possible coverage, filling in the gaps which would otherwise remain within your consumer data.  

Fine, you might say – but what about the overlap mentioned above – the records which are common to all the files. If a significant number of records can be found on each individual file aren’t you simply going to end up paying more than once for the same information? Well, yes and no…and it’s more No than Yes.

If one file indicates that a person is deceased or gone-away, and a second or third corroborates that, this is the point at which the record gains the highest possible level of authentication.

When you’re suppressing a simple prospect mailing file, a single source match may be all you require. But the value you place on your customer records will be far greater, so this higher degree of corroboration, will provide that stronger level of confidence.

Accessing Unifi 

We can talk about a range of options and will be as flexible as needed to fit around your preferred way of doing things. In the best-case scenario, we will provide a fast and persistent feed via API.

As you probably know, the Fourth Principle of the Data Protection Act – now enshrined in GDPR Article 5(d) – makes the case for frequent data checking and cleansing.

personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay.

It’s no longer acceptable to run a quarterly audit on data quality, and with and prevailing UK daily deaths rates of 1600, coupled with current technology, it’s arguably no longer appropriate to be running monthly checks. The ultimate aim has to be real-time data feeds enabling perpetual quality audits. A fully automated process, running in the background, without the need for manual intervention. By switching to data delivery via an API, you will instantly benefit from any improvements in the supply chain.