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How to spot a fake ID by state

Let’s take a detailed look at how to spot a fake ID by state.

May 11th, 2022

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Across America, fake IDs are regularly used by members of the public to try and obtain alcohol or sign-up for new services. 

The three most common types of fake ID are:

  • Borrowed IDs: This is when a minor either borrows or takes an ID from an older sibling, a friend, or a stranger and pretends to be that person
  • Altered IDs: This is when the genuine ID of a person has been changed. For example, a minor may keep all the information on their ID the same except for their date of birth
  • Forged IDs: This is when a new fake ID is made with the intention of creating a false identity

In this blog, we’re going to focus on how to spot forged IDs. This is because increasing access to technology means that forged IDs are now much more advanced than they were before. For example, many forged IDs now have barcodes that are encoded with matching information.

However, although the quality of the forgeries has improved considerably, so has the quality of the security features used in official IDs, particularly at a state level. Now, each state has its own security features that are unique, including holograms, UV imagery and laser embossing. With this in mind, let’s take a detailed look at how to spot a fake ID by state. But first, we’ll provide some general tips for checking whether an ID is real or a forgery.

What to look for

Even though fake IDs are now harder to spot than ever before, there are several ways you can tell whether an ID is real or a forgery.  

The majority of the time, by feeling the card, scanning the barcode, and searching for misspellings or missing pieces of information, you can spot a fake.

Similarly, studying the behavior of the cardholder can tell you a lot about the ID they’ve handed you. Signs of anxiety or unclear answers to your questions could indicate that the ID requires further scrutiny.

Now we’ve covered these general points, let’s take a detailed look at how to spot a fake ID by state.

State holograms

IDs have holographic images that become visible when they’re held to the light. The hologram that becomes visible varies on a state-by-state basis, so it’s important you know what yours is.

For example, on an Illinois driving license, the state name shows up in diagonal across the front of the card when you tilt it in the light.

Laser perforation

Laser perforation is another key security feature that’s included in official forms of ID.

Official IDs have tiny laser-perforated holes that aren’t visible to the naked eye unless they’re held to direct sunlight. Again, these laser-perforated images differ on a state-by-state basis, but they usually form a picture.

For example, in Kansas, the perforated holes form the shape of a turtle in the upper right corner of the card. This is visible on both the front and the back of the license.

UV imagery

Also known as a blacklight image, UV imagery is now central to combating fraud. Again, the UV imagery used varies widely. As a result, it’s important to know what yours is so you know exactly what you’re looking for. In states like California, it’s a second, lighter image of the driver.

Laser embossing

The majority of states emboss their IDs with a laser. This is used to raise the plastic on the front of the ID. Again, this is very hard to replicate on a fake ID.

Although the laser embossing doesn’t alter the back of the ID, it does allow you to feel the ID and check whether the embossing is present and whether it matches standards for your state.

In North Carolina, for instance, the date of birth on a license is laser engraved, so you can feel it. Alternatively, in California, raised lettering is used for the cardholder’s signature.

Quality of laminate

States apply for a professional laminate, which is used to seal their IDs. However, members of the public do not have access to laminates of this quality.

If you have reason to believe that someone’s ID is fake, then you should bend the ID into a ‘U’ shape. When bent like this, non-professional and poor-quality laminates will bubble.

In addition, the edges of the ID should also feel smooth rather than sharp, and they should never be peeling away. On top of this, the card shouldn’t feel flimsy or easy to bend.

Book a consultation with Veriff

At Veriff, we understand the importance of verifying the identity of your customers.

With the help of our ID verification software, you can verify the legitimacy of identity documents in real-time. We can verify 10,000+ IDs from over 190 countries and in 40 different languages.

As well as helping you detect fake and tampered IDs, we can ensure you comply with the latest AML and KYC regulations. Plus, we can also make it easy for genuine and honest users to access your services. Over 95% of users are verified on their first try and a decision is usually made within six seconds. Ultimately, this means a 30% increase in conversion rates.

Interested in hearing more about how we could help you? Book a consultation with the team today. They’ll provide you with a personalized demo that shows exactly what we can do for you.

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