How to Spot a Fraudulent ID or Drivers License

Checking identification for age-restricted activities such as purchasing alcohol is essential for businesses to protect their own interests and keep the public safe. Unfortunately, the simple ask of verifying a person’s age and identity via a driver’s license or other legal document is not always enough.

Fraudulent ID cards have become increasingly common, and are made with growing sophistication by criminal organizations.

Identity Verification Challenges Facing Business Owners and Operators

The technology available today makes it easier than ever to print and pass fake ID cards, which means businesses always need to remain one step ahead of the fraudsters. Here are just several examples of the types of fake IDs business owners are likely to encounter:

  • A legitimate document that belongs to someone else that the person presenting it might have stolen or purchased.
  • An altered copy of a document copied from a legitimate document.
  • A fraudulent document produced to look genuine but represents a type of document that does not exist.
  • A genuine document that someone obviously altered.

Whether it is refusing to serve alcohol or denying people another type of service that requires a valid ID, business owners must know how to spot fake IDs and train their staff to do the same.

Verify These Safety Features to Detect Fraudulent ID Cards

Today’s driver’s licenses and identification cards are more sophisticated than ever. Although each state has its own security features and layout of information, the safety features indicated below are quite common.

  • Ghost image: A ghost image is a half-tone replication of the main image. It usually appears in a larger box to the far upper right of the driver’s license or photo ID. Most states place ghost images at the far bottom left of the card.
  • Laser engraving or perforation: People cannot remove names, addresses, and other relevant information printed with laser engraving on a driver’s license or ID card without damaging it. The damage should be obvious to anyone looking at the card.
  • Laser perforation creates holes from a laser beam that enhances certain images or objects on the card. The card then has a tactile feel, something people responsible for checking IDs should notice when holding the ID in their hand.
  • Overlay or overlapping data: An overlay is a piece of protective coating or extremely thin piece of film that protects the ID card. People should be able to see the overlay and feel it tactically when checking IDs.
  • Overlapping data, such as an address or signature, can appear over a photo image. A fraudster would need to alter both fields to present a fake ID card.

Many fraudulent ID cards are cheaply made and lack most of the security features and technologies listed above.

Determine if ID Photo Matches the Person Presenting It

Servers should not be afraid to study the customer’s face while looking at the photo of the ID at the same time. Study features like the shape of the face and nose, how far the eyes sit apart. Alternatively, look to see whether the chin has a point or a cleft.

These aforementioned features are impossible to change without plastic surgery. By contrast people can easily change their hair color or even their eye color with special lenses.

Serving alcohol to minors is simply too big of a risk for anyone to take. Being friendly yet assertive and knowing what to look for are critical tools for preventing a possible tragedy.