On BeWelcome, we call "Verification" a feature which tries to ensure the accuracy of the name and address information provided by our members. Currently, this feature is not reliable though because of a known bug which is described below.
The verification tool is in "beta" version. We are working on it, for details please have a look at the Verification Feature Workpage.
All verifications are in essence potentially invalid. A member can have his name and/or address verified today, and tomorrow change them in the database. BeWelcome does not keep a record of which name and address that was actually verified. The profile would still display the verification icon, as if the current name and/or address is verified.
(This was previously noted with a date, saying that verifications before said date was invalid (last updated by user ppec on Apr 4 21:03:38 2013). I can't see how any date is relevant, as this is a current and as of yet unremedied flaw of the whole system. /quitelost)
Therefore, verfication does not currently serve the purpose of being a safety feature. Members should not count upon other members' verification(s) as a sort of security that the real name and or address are known to Bewelcome. Until the bug gets fixed, "verification" is only useful for introducing the subject of an ID check with diplomacy, and should not be mistaken with something worthier.
If you make an ID check for verification purposes and want to make sure that the verified name is kept somewhere (not every name can be easily remembered), please copy it down yourself.
Other than this bug, the verification system has intrinsic limitations which are outlined further down.
What is a verified member and how does verification work?
A verified member is a member whose name (and, optionally, address) has been verified. Verified members have an image like this one in their profile:
Let's say that a member called 'Alicia' wants to be verified. She is traveling and is hosted by another BeWelcome member called 'Chen'. To verify that Alicia is who she claims to be, Alicia must show some identity document to Chen.
Now to make it official, Chen must log in to her BeWelcome account, and go to Alicia's profile. There, she can click on the "Verify member" button. They will then both have to enter their BeWelcome password. That makes sure that the people that are verifying each other are actually on the same computer, and thus have met in real life.
Then Chen will click the box "I confirm that the name of member Alicia shown above is identical to the one in her/his passport/ID" and submit. Alicia will have the opportunity to do the same for Chen - and she definitely should (once she has checked her ID of course).
Now, Alicia and Chen are officially verified members.
One thing that only Chen - the host - can get and not her guest Alicia, is address verification.
Since Alicia is staying at Chen's place and knows her street address, she can also verify Chen's address. Below the box "I confirm that the name of member Chen shown above is identical to the one in her/his passport/ID", she can also click the box "I confirm that the address where member Chen lives is the same as displayed above on this page." After she submits, Chen will be verified with her name AND address.
Now, people that don't know Chen are more likely to trust the veracity of his profile info.
How-to videoHere is a video which shows you how to do a verification: http://vimeo.com/63311657
Types of verification
There are 2 types of verification.
Verified by another member
This means another member has met this member in person and that they verified each other.
Checked by a BeWelcome Verifier
Some of the volunteers of BeWelcome are especially dedicated to verification. The identity of these "BeWelcome Verifiers" has been checked by members of the Board of Directors at a real life meeting.
If you see that a member has been "checked by a BeWelcome Verifier" it means that he/she has met one of the BeWelcome Verifiers in person and that they verified each other.
Limitations of the verification process
Verified by who?
One verification is, at most, as trustworthy as the person who did it. If two new members verify each other, not having any comments or verification otherwise, the possibility should be considered that they could be one single person verifying him/herself.
Other than this extrem case, unlike cashiers or customs officers for example, most members have never been trained to verify the authenticity of identity documents - and even a professionally trained person cannot know the appearance of all types of identity documents issued wordwide, most people only knowing the ones issued by their own country.
Verification of what?
When only the name is verified, it means that the verification is based exclusively upon checking an identity document. Surely, most identity documents display true informations. However, according to some statistics displayed by the European Parliament, between 8 and 15% of biometric French passports, for example, are issued upon falsified information.
Usability of the information verified
When the address is not verified: while some names and/or first names are very rare, some other ones are very frequent. While family name plus first name often allow to identify a person, sometimes this can be insufficient data (some names exist by the thousands, and in some cases there might even be hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who share the same name).
Almost all those limits apply both to verifications done by another member and to verifications done by a BeWelcome Verifier. A verification made by a member widely commented, and living in the country issuing the verified identity document, can be more relevant than a verification made by a BeWelcome Verifier from another country who does not know how an ID of that country is supposed to look like. Considering verification information, as any other information, each member should first use his/her own judgement.