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Fake ID statistics

Fake IDs are more common than you might think. The latest fake ID statistics available show that 14,000 fake IDs were seized in the state of Cincinnati alone in 2020. However, fake IDs aren’t just a US-based issue. In the UK, estimates suggest that more than 2,000 fake IDs are presented to Border Force staff every year.

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August 30, 2022
Blog Post
Identity Verification

Fake IDs have been in existence ever since the First World War, when government-issued IDs were circulated on a grand scale for the first time. 

However, the use of fake IDs has grown rapidly in the past few decades. When the United States changed the minimum age for purchasing and possessing alcohol to 21 in 1984, the number of fake IDs in circulation in America spiked.

So, with this in mind, how common are fake IDs today? In this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at the latest fake ID statistics and the most common forms of fake ID. We’ll then examine the impact of fake IDs and how our solutions can help you verify identity documents. 

How common are fake IDs?

Fake IDs are more common than you might think. The latest fake ID statistics available show that 14,000 fake IDs were seized in the state of Cincinnati alone in 2020. However, fake IDs aren’t just a US-based issue. In the UK, estimates suggest that more than 2,000 fake IDs are presented to Border Force staff every year.

Unsurprisingly, fake IDs are particularly popular with those who are college age and below. Estimates suggest that 15% of pre-college teens and 32.2% of college students have confessed to owning a fake ID. In Ohio, a similar survey uncovered that 69% of college students had either used or owned a fake ID during some part of their college experience.

Fake IDs are particularly popular with this age group because they can be used to facilitate underage drinking. That said, fake IDs are also associated with identity theft, public benefit fraud, and human trafficking. Terrorists also use them to evade travel screening measures.

Research has also shown that the most common type of ID forgery relates to passports, which accounted for 39% of all fake documents uncovered in 2021. They were followed by ID cards (29%), biometric residence permits (19%), and driving licenses (8%).

Most common fake ID

The three most common forms of fake ID are:

  • Borrowed IDs
  • Forged IDs
  • Altered IDs

Let’s have a look at each of these forms of fake ID in greater detail, so you can spot them if your business comes across them.

Borrowed IDs

The latest fake ID statistics estimate that around 95% of all ID fraud cases include borrowed IDs. This form of identity fraud occurs when an individual (usually a minor looking to obtain alcohol or another age-restricted product) uses the ID of a family member or a friend.

Thankfully, it’s usually easy to spot when someone is using an ID that doesn’t belong to them. If you’re suspicious that the person in question isn’t of age or isn’t the genuine ID holder, then you should look for discrepancies between the ID photo and the ID holder. At this stage, you should also test the physical description on the ID against the person in front of you.

If you’re still uncertain whether the ID genuinely belongs to the person in front of you, ask them questions about the information on the ID.

Forged fake IDs

A forged ID is an identity document that has been created in order to falsify an identity. One great example of a forged ID is the famous fake ID used by McLovin in the film Superbad.

Traditionally, forged fake IDs were simple to spot. This is because either the printing quality was poor or the barcode on the ID was unscannable. However, over the course of the past decade, these IDs have become increasingly difficult to spot. Today, forged IDs include stolen personal information and a photo of the forged ID holder. More than 60% of these IDs not only appear legitimate to the naked eye, but they also have barcodes encoded with matching information.

Thankfully, it is still possible to spot forged fake IDs. If you suspect that an ID has been forged, then you should scan the barcode and check to see whether information has been encoded. This process is known as ID parsing.

If the ID passes this authentication process, then you should inspect it closely. Start by checking the print quality and then look for the security features that are in use in your state. Finally, check the edges. Legitimate IDs usually have rounded edges, as these are difficult to replicate. If the ID in front of you has square or ragged edges, then it’s likely a fake.

If you’re still unsure about the legitimacy of the ID, then you can use identity verification software to help you.

Altered fake IDs

An altered fake ID is a government-issued document that contains information that has been partially changed. These forms of fake ID are usually used by underage persons who have altered the date of birth on their driving license in order to purchase alcohol or access a gated service.

Although altered IDs begin life as genuine government-issued documents, the altering of the information on them makes them a form of fake ID. Again, as long as you know what you’re searching for, then you’ll find them relatively simple to spot.

Firstly, altering the information on a fake ID usually also alters the ID’s security features. This will make the ID look unusual. On top of this, states use special fonts, colors, and surface textures when designing their ID. So it’s likely that the change a person has made will stand out if you inspect the ID closely. You should pay specific attention to the font used and whether the background on that section of the ID looks different.

Again, if unsure about the legitimacy of the ID, then you can use identity verification software to help you.

Impact of fake IDs

The laws governing fake IDs vary on a state-by-state basis. However, the possession of a false identity document is considered to be a crime in itself. If someone then uses that document to commit another crime (such as attempting to purchase alcohol while underage), then they may face additional penalties and charges.

It’s a crime to make, carry, or use a fake ID. The penalties involved in possessing a fake ID and using it to carry out an illegal act include jail time, fines, and community service. In addition, if someone alters their driving license, then their license may be suspended.

Although it’s highly unlikely that a first-time offender will go to jail for carrying and using a fake ID, it is still possible. That said, it’s more likely that a user will instead face a fine or be asked to do a number of hours of community service. Fines vary by state, but they can run into the thousands of dollars. The person involved may also face further penalties from their college or place of employment.

However, the person using the fake ID isn’t the only one that will face consequences. If a business allows someone with a fake ID to purchase alcohol or access their services, then they face huge regulatory punishments.

In the case of a bar that supplies alcohol to minors, the bar may be asked to close, they may face a fine, or they may lose their liquor license. If you provide an online service and allow people with fake IDs to access that service (such as setting up a new bank account), then you will also face fines that can run into the millions of dollars. On top of this, your reputation will also be damaged and you may lose a large volume of current customers who will no longer trust your security procedures.

How Veriff can help with ID verification

Here at Veriff, we make it simple for businesses like yours to verify the authenticity of user identity documents.

With the help of our ID verification software, you can verify the legitimacy of identity documents in real time. Our software has the ability to verify more than 10,000 IDs from over 190 countries and in 45 different languages.

Our solution allows you to detect fake and tampered IDs, so you can stop identity fraud at the gates. But, with a 98% check automation rate and a 6-second average decision time, it also makes it simple for honest users to access your services. If you like, you can also ask your customer for a selfie and our leading face-recognition technology will match the user’s face to the photo on the ID.

To discover more about how our ID verification solutions can help you, talk to our ID verification experts today. Provide us with a few basic details and we’ll create a personalized demo that shows exactly how we can support your efforts.