How to Catch a Fake ID


Have you wished for a 5-minute crash course, a 10-point guide on ways to catch a fake ID? Here’s one from the best in the business.

If your business involves retailing restricted, age-gated or identity-based products or services (financial, automotive, hospitality), then verifying the identities of prospective customers or ensuring they are adults is a routine but important aspect of your job.

It's also a reality then that you have come across fake IDs. Some, you have been able to spot and saved your business from exposure to fines and legal ramifications. And there are others that are such good fakes that you feel helpless, caught between your social responsibilities toward your community and reputation damage.

According to Document Security Alliance, more than 8 million fake IDs were purchased in the United States in 2021.

While there are no foolproof ways to catch a fake ID, especially without forensic ID scanning and verification solutions, like Patronscan, if you look for the right (or wrong) things on an ID and spot behavioural shifts, you are giving yourself a fighting chance.

Either way, you shouldn't blame yourself or your employees for being fooled as these IDs can be notoriously hard to pick out so here are 10 ways to catch a fake ID:

1. First things first, compare the ID image with the live image.

Sometimes fraudsters will use a legitimate valid ID of a friend or a family member to gain access, especially during busy hours. Make sure to compare the image on the ID to the person standing there. Patronscan goes a couple of steps further. For instance, if multiple patrons use one genuine ID to gain access to a venue, Patronscan will notify you if an ID was used already that night with a Double Scan Alert, prompting that this might be an unauthorized and illegal use of a genuine ID.

2. Genuine IDs have polycarbonate construction.

Genuine IDs are made of high-quality polycarbonate as opposed to cheaper plastic that many fakes use. Get used to the feel of genuine IDs to help you discern the fakes quickly. Here's a quick test if in doubt: a proper polycarbonate ID should sound like metal when dropped onto a hard surface.

3. Look for the ghost image.

Many IDs feature a smaller version of the individual’s image displayed in a semi-translucent manner. Fake ID makers often forget to include this, but Patronscan never forgets to look for it.

4. Look for holograms.

Holograms are used in genuine IDs because they are expensive and difficult to reproduce. It’s a good idea to check for them.

5. Look for laser perforation.

With the use of a flashlight, you can see if the light passes through the ID in the proper orientation based on the unique identifiers of IDs from the respective state or province. While it can be challenging to look for these, especially if you see customers from multiple jurisdictions, Patronscan automatically ‘looks’ for the appropriate laser perforation based on the ID that has been used, no matter the issuing state or province.

6. Spot overlapping images and text.

Sometimes, the IDs have all the right bells and whistles but are just positioned incorrectly, often by a fraction of a millimeter. If the IDs are not good fakes, you and your team members may be able to catch them, but in most cases, the fake IDs are really good, and your naked eyes may just not be enough. Backed by a burgeoning database of ID templates, both genuine and fake, Patronscan can identify these anomalies in less than 3 seconds.

7. Use Challenge Questions.

Even someone with the best fake ID imaginable may crack under pressure. After all, they know it's faked no matter how good it is. Training your people to ask a few simple questions can help uncover those fakes. In case your business comes across IDs from multiple jurisdictions, it may be challenging for your personnel to remember the right questions. Patronscan provides useful Challenge Questions based on the state represented on the ID with the correct responses at the scanner.

8. Real ID verification

If you are based in the United States, the Real ID is coming soon. ID verification solutions like Patronscan are perfectly suited to evaluate if that Real ID is what it claims to be.

9. Missing Microprinting.

Most genuine IDs have features microprinted all over them, for example, the individual’s name under the photograph, the date of expiry, etc. These features may not be visible to the naked eye (it’s called microprinting for a reason), making an ID verification solution ideal to expose these anomalies on a document.

10. Fine Line Patterns.

Genuine IDs often have fine line patterns and shapes in their designs. Close examination is best performed by scanning rather than the human eye in poor lighting.

While taking these steps will ensure you will increasingly spot fake IDs, but forensic ID scanning and verification solution is still your best bet.

As a committed citizen and a responsible business owner, you want to ensure no minors, no fraudsters and no trouble hit your establishments due to these fake IDs.

Give your team the tools that will help them safeguard your business and patrons, book a demo today and see why Patronscan is the trusted choice in ID verification.