The terms “identity matching” and “name matching” are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably. In fact, name matching is not the only component in an identity matching process, though it is clearly the most challenging. Identity matching is a technique employed to determine whether or not two separate data records relate to the same person (where persons can be either legal or natural, and a legal person could be a company, foundation, trust or other organisation).
Matching two such “person records” typically involves calculating a metric to describe the similarity of the characteristics displayed by each. In the case of a natural person these characteristics include the name, date of birth, nationality and address as well as various reference codes such as passport and social security numbers. The characteristics of a legal person may include the name, legal status and place and date of incorporation, while its reference numbers may include tax codes and incorporation references. In both cases, in the absence of a unique identifying code, the highest weight is usually given to the person’s name, as this is a key determinant of identity in most societies.