Do Fake IDs Scan? A Closer Look at ID Scanning

Do Fake IDs Scan?

Fake IDs are very prevalent these days. And they’re better than ever. In fact, many of the options sold on popular sites are “guaranteed to scan.”

You might be wondering: How is that possible? How can fake IDs that are sold online scan?

Here’s a simple answer: A lot of fake IDs scan because most ID scanners only check to see if the information encoded in the barcode is in the correct format. Therefore, as long as the barcode is encoded correctly and the data shows the ID holder is of legal age, it will scan like a legitimate ID.

In other words, the data isn’t cross-referenced against a government database. Therefore, the ID could include a completely made-up identity and it will continue to scan.

However, this may be changing. AI-based scanners use image processing to scan IDs and compare the ID against official templates. These scanning tools can recognize tiny, telling differences in spacing, fonts, holograms and imperfections. These tools can spot fake IDs with much greater precision, but the majority of bar and liquor store scanners don’t yet have these capabilities.

Are you a bar or liquor store owner? Beyond ID scanners there are many other steps you can take to protect yourself. This guide features tips for using ID scanners, as well as other ways to check for fake IDs.

Why Don’t ID Scanners Catch Fake IDs?

Most online ID scanners capture data encrypted in the barcode or magnetic strip on the back of a driver’s license or government-issued ID. These scans determine if the data is valid and in the right format. Therefore, if the barcode is encoded properly and says the ID holder is of age, it will pass a scan.

Why is that possible?

Essentially, ID barcodes are not intended for security. Instead, the barcodes are created to simplify data collection. They enable ID scanners to quickly extract information from an ID, e.g. as you pass through a TSA checkpoint for instance or visit a liquor store.

Counterfeiters can find the tools and encoding schemes online for forging barcode data, and consequently it’s fairly easy to create scannable fake IDs. In fact, the majority of fake IDs sold online will scan as legitimate. ID scanners do, however, catch fakes that aren’t properly encoded.

Many states are introducing counterfeit-proofing features in their IDs to prevent fake IDs from entering the market.

How Do ID Scanners Work?

New ID Features to Stop Counterfeiting

Many states have incorporated encrypted features that prevent fake IDs from scanning. The most common types of features include:

  • Holograms: Many IDs have holograms embedded into the card itself. These holograms are often complex and difficult to replicate, making it harder for fake IDs to pass a scan.
  • UV Features: Some IDs have features that are only visible under UV light. If a fake ID doesn’t replicate these features correctly, it won’t pass a scan.
  • Microprinting: This involves very small text or numbers printed onto the ID that are difficult to replicate without high-quality equipment.
  • RFID Chips: Some IDs have RFID chips embedded in them, which contain information that can be read by a scanner. If a fake ID doesn’t have a working RFID chip, it won’t pass a scan.
  • Complex Card Designs: Many IDs have complex designs with multiple layers and colors, which can be difficult to replicate accurately.
  • Tactile Features: Some IDs have raised text, distinct typefaces, fine lines, microtext or images that can be felt. If these aren’t replicated on a fake ID, it can be a giveaway.
  • Ghost Images: Some IDs have a smaller, ghost image of the ID holder. This is another feature that can be difficult to replicate.

Passing Lighting Checks

Holograms and UV features are some of the most difficult to forge. These features can be tested with white light. By shining white light on the ID or exposing it to UV light, holograms and fluorescent overlays are utilized as an additional layer of security.

Because it is simple to verify these security measures with low-tech techniques, today’s counterfeiters will attempt to replicate them as precisely as possible. To pass these checks, forgers either attempt to duplicate these security features or port over genuine versions from legitimate IDs.

The quality of the fake ID and the ID scanner’s complexity determine whether or not it will pass the lighting test on an ID scanner. Relying solely on these tests can give the false impression of security because more advanced fake IDs can duplicate holograms and fluorescent overlays.

ID Scanning Solutions

What Information Do ID Scanners Gather?

ID scanners typically gather vital ID stats from cards. Therefore, it’s recommended that in addition to ID scanning, bars and age-restricted businesses use questions and visual checks as an added layer of protection.

The types of stats captured by ID scanners include:

  • Full Name: The individual’s first and last name.
  • Date of Birth: The individual’s birth date to verify their age.
  • ID Expiration Date: The date when the ID will or has expired. (Note: Expired IDs do scan. Therefore, it’s important that businesses know the local laws in their states regarding expired IDs.)
  • ID Issue Date: The date when the ID was issued.
  • ID Number: The unique identification number associated with the ID.
  • Gender: The individual’s gender as listed on the ID.
  • Address: The individual’s address as listed on the ID.
  • Photo: Some ID scanners can also capture the photo from the ID for further verification.

The specific information gathered typically varies depending on the type of ID scanner used and the local laws and regulations regarding privacy and data collection.

How ID Scanners Help Businesses Detect Fake IDs

You might be wondering: Is an ID scanner worth the investment if some fake IDs scan?

The short answer is yes! ID scanning solutions – especially digital identity checkers – offer benefits like:

  • Fast, convenient ID scans – This is necessary at bars and nightclubs that must serve a large volume of customers.
  • Fake ID detection – ID scanners will typically catch the majority of low-quality fake IDs. These won’t include scannable barcodes.
  • Pattern matching – The best ID scanners include the ability to detect tiny differences in text and images.

Do fake IDs scan, considering all the factors discussed? Generally speaking, it is possible, although the probability of success is relatively low due to the implementation of advanced proprietary scanning technologies.

Are you ready to effectively prevent the use of fake IDs at your establishment, once and for all? Get in touch with FTx Identity to demo our identity verification software today!

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