LibraryblogHow to spot a fake ID

How to spot a fake ID

What is a fake ID? And what does a fake ID look like? Here, we answer both of these burning questions and take a deep dive into the world of UK fake IDs. 

Header image
April 12, 2022
Blog Post

The process of forging ID cards has become much simpler in recent years. This is because most homes in the UK now have access to low-cost high-resolution printers, scanners, and basic photo-editing software.

But, what is a fake ID? And what does a fake ID look like? Here, we answer both of these burning questions and take a deep dive into the world of UK fake IDs. 

Valid forms of ID

In order to access a number of products and services, you need to present a valid form of ID. 

The forms of identification that are considered to be “valid” will depend on exactly what service you’re using or the product you’re attempting to buy. However, generally speaking, official ID cards in the UK include:

  • A current signed passport
  • A photo driving license
  • A Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) card

All of these forms of identification are usually used to prove your name, your age, and your likeness.

In some instances, an identity document will only need to pass a cursory inspection, such as if a cashier asks to see proof of age before buying alcohol. However, at passport control at an airport, a passport may be scrutinized by a trained document examiner. In these instances, technical tools will help check the document and hidden security features will be analyzed.

Certain signs will indicate that an ID is fake. For example, fake PASS cards usually have a hologram that is stuck on top of the plastic, rather than being part of the card itself. Similarly fake driving licenses often contain incorrect flag images, fake holograms, or simple-patterned backgrounds. On top of this, fake passports usually have an incorrect number of pages for the time they were issued, a photograph that isn’t digitally printed, or are missing a passport chip.

Types of fake ID

Current government guidance states that there are five types of false documents. These include:

  1. A genuine document that is being used by someone else, e.g. a younger sister using an older sister’s driving license. Some people refer to this as a borrowed ID
  2. A genuine document that has been altered, e.g. a driving license where the date of birth has been removed or changed. This is also known as an altered ID
  3. A genuine document that has been obtained fraudulently, e.g. a real passport that has been stolen and is now being used by somebody else
  4. A fake document that is a copy of a genuine document, e.g. someone who has created a replica of someone’s existing driving license
  5. A fake document that is a form of ID that does not exist, e.g. a provisional motorcycle license

The most common forms of UK fake ID include national identification cards, European or international driving permits, and provisional motorcycle licenses. However, borrowed IDs and altered IDs are also common.

How fake IDs are usually made

Creating a UK fake ID is extremely dangerous and highly illegal. Under the Identity Documents Act 2010, it is a crime to possess a forged identity document or to possess another person's identity document for the purpose of pretending to be that person. The maximum penalty for the offense is 10 years in prison. 

That said, some people do create fake IDs in an attempt to deceive. This is usually done using one of two methods: creating a cardstock ID or using an inkjet or laser printer.

Cardstock IDs are created using high-quality scanners. Once an original document has been scanned, the text or image on the document is changed using photo-editing software, such as Photoshop. For example, someone who is 17 may change their date of birth by a year in an attempt to purchase alcohol in the UK. Alternatively, they may use the card details of someone who is 18, but with their own face added as the photo.

Inkjet or laser printer IDs are created using Teslin or Artisyn paper and butterfly laminating pouches. Again, scans of original documents are usually edited in Photoshop and printed using a high-quality printer so they look official. However, sometimes ID templates are used instead. In this instance, a new ID is created from scratch.

No matter whether they’re made using cardstock or a printer, these forms of ID are illegal. If you’re found supplying one to somebody or using one for your own purposes, you’ll be prosecuted under the Identity Documents Act 2010.

How to spot fake IDs

In truth, the vast majority of these UK fake IDs are easy to spot. Even when high-quality printers and professional products are used, these IDs often look and feel different to the real versions.

One of the main ways that these fake IDs vary from the real versions is the background of the document. Due to enhanced security measures, backgrounds on official IDs are now incredibly complex. This makes them difficult to forge and means that sections of the background cannot be copied and pasted into a different area when the document is being edited in Photoshop.

Another key identifier of fake IDs is the hologram. Again, the holograms on official documents like driving licenses have been specifically designed so that they’re near impossible to replicate accurately. For example, on a UK driving license, the hologram of a steering wheel sits directly over the driver’s photograph and turns as you move the card. As a result, fake IDs usually either have a hologram that is different to the official version, or a hologram that sits on top of the ID and makes it uneven to run your hand over.

In addition to this, if you have your suspicions about whether a form of ID is valid, you should check the information on the ID you’re given. Personal information such as the name, the dates, the license number, the barcode, and the style of the ID (these purposefully change over time) could indicate that the ID has been forged.

As an example of this, we recently broke down how even though famous fraudsters like McLovin have sometimes managed to use fake IDs successfully, several clues point to the ID being fake. For example, in the film Superbad, McLovin’s ID has the wrong expiry date, his license number is incorrect, and the barcode isn’t from the time that particular license was issued. Of course, in the real world (rather than a Hollywood film), this ID would be flagged as suspicious and would be rejected.

Check IDs and truly know your customers with Veriff

As you can see from the above, although the process of making a UK fake ID is tricky (and highly illegal), it is possible.

As a result, as a business owner, you need to safeguard your business against potential fraudsters. Thankfully, our ID verification software can verify IDs in seconds anywhere in the world.

Our software helps you verify identity documents in real time. This means that you can stop identity fraud at the gates and discover synthetic fraud. With the ability to verify more than 10,000 IDs from over 190 countries and in 40 different languages, we can swiftly and easily make sure that your customers are exactly who they say they are.

All your user needs to do is snap a photo of their ID. Our software will then detect what the document is, and whether a photo of the back of the ID is also required. Following this, we provide real-time feedback to the user and extract data from the document to detect tampered IDs.

With the help of our software, you can truly ensure that you know your customers. This means you can also ensure compliance with the latest KYC and AML regulations.

Want to learn more about how our software can help your business? Get a demo today. Alternatively, read our case studies and reviews to see exactly what our customers think.