Posted on: February 22, 2023

Procedures for Checking IDs: How to Tell if an ID is Fake

How to Spot a Fake ID

If you work at a restaurant, bar, nightclub, or other venues where alcohol may be sold, you must know the procedures for checking IDs and can spot a fake ID. People frequently use fake IDs to enter places they would otherwise be denied. These individuals are usually trying to purchase alcohol.

The business is responsible for checking the validity and accuracy of its customers’ identification before granting them access to alcohol.However, it may not always be easy knowing how to check an ID, especially when fake IDs are becoming more precise looking. This post will teach you how to spot a fake ID.

What is a Fake ID vs. a Real ID?

A fake ID is a form of identification not genuine or issued by a government agency. In contrast, a genuine ID is a legitimate form of identification issued by a government agency.

Different states have varying requirements for acceptable forms of identification. Both local and national laws dictate what IDs are allowed, but many have standard regulations. Using fake IDs or borrowing someone else's valid ID is illegal throughout the U.S.

To spot a fake ID, you should know the several critical differences between counterfeit and real IDs, including:

  • Quality. A fake ID is often of lower quality and may have printing errors, incorrect font, or blurry images. A real ID is high quality and has clear accurate information and pictures.
  • Security features. A fake ID may lack security features such as holograms and watermarks that are present in real IDs to prevent counterfeiting.
  • Information. The information on a fake ID may not match the information provided by the person presenting it or may be inconsistent with the information on the ID. In contrast, the information on a real ID is accurate and consistent.
  • Legality. Possessing and using a fake ID is illegal while retaining and using a real ID is legal.

Some fake IDs can be very convincing and may be difficult to distinguish from real IDs. In cases of doubt, asking questions or returning the ID to the individual may be necessary, denying them access.

Those who sell or supply alcohol to a minor can face various consequences, including fines or probation. In some states, defendants may also face jail time of up to a year. Businesses that are caught selling alcohol to minors may face the possibility of having their liquor licenses revoked.

Moreover, individuals using a fake ID may face serious consequences, including fines, imprisonment, or a criminal record.

How to Tell if an ID is Fake

If you want to know how to spot a fake ID, you should first understand the three types of fake IDs:

  1. Borrowed IDs
  2. Forged/Fake IDs
  3. Altered IDs

Advances in security features have impacted the methods of ID fraud. Borrowed IDs are the most prevalent form of ID fraud, followed by fake and altered IDs, which are less common. Here are some ways to spot each type of fake ID.

1. Borrowed IDs

The most common type of fake ID is a borrowed ID, accounting for roughly 95% of all ID fraud cases. Minors typically obtain these borrowed IDs from people in their social circles, such as older siblings, friends, or strangers.

Ways to Identify a Borrowed ID:

  • Compare the ID photo with the person holding it to see if there are any differences.
  • Assess if the physical description on the ID matches the individual in front of you.
  • Verify that the license is still valid and has not expired.

If you still have doubts about the license's authenticity, look for your state's duplicate stamp to see if it is a copy. Although a duplicate license does not necessarily indicate a borrowed one, it is a warning sign in a questionable situation.

2. Forged/Fake IDs

A forged ID is any identification document that has been fabricated to create a false identity.

There are two types of forged IDs:

  1. Front-forged IDs
  2. Front-and-back-forged IDs

As the name implies, front-forged IDs appear to be legitimate from the front, but their barcodes either can't be scanned or don't display the correct information when scanned. Typically, these IDs use stolen personal information and a photo of the person pretending to be the ID holder.

With the advancement of technology, fake IDs have become increasingly sophisticated. Over 60% of forged IDs now look legitimate on the front and have barcodes that match the information they display.

Fake ID Front

To determine if an ID is a front forged ID, one can use a basic ID scanner to check if the barcode is scannable and if it has encoded information. This technique, known as ID parsing, is a fast way to identify a fake ID.

Additionally, looking for signs like square or ragged edges on the ID is important, as these may indicate a false front.

Fake ID Back

To determine if an ID is back forged, verify the ID's barcode information by using a reliable ID database.

3. Altered IDs

Typically, an altered fake ID is a legitimate identification belonging to the individual presenting it, with some modified details. Minors may change the birth date on their ID to enter bars and buy alcohol.

How to Identify Altered IDs:

  • Pay attention to the ID’s security features because, most of the time, altering an ID will also change its security features.
  • Inspect the ID for any modifications to its distinctive color printing, surface texture, and security features specific to your state.

What does a fake ID look like?

Educate your employees to learn how to recognize fake IDs in your state and familiarize them with the state's identification security features. The following are key factors to pay attention to:


Familiarize yourself with the unique holographic image on IDs from your state as this can assist in identifying fake IDs. The picture becomes visible when held up to a light.

Cheap Laminate

The professional laminate on a state ID helps to secure the ultraviolet imagery and preserve the card. You can test if the presented ID has a professional laminate by gently bending it into a "U" shape. If the laminate is not of professional quality, it will form bubbles when bent.

Laser Perforation

IDs contain small, perforated holes that create images that can only be seen when held up to direct light. Each state has unique laser-perforated images.

Laser Embossing

Some states use laser technology to create raised lettering or design on the front of their IDs. This process, called laser embossing, can be felt and checked to verify its presence and conformity to standards. The back of the ID remains unchanged during this process.

UV Imagery

Most states have a secondary, faint image on their IDs that can only be seen under ultraviolet light.

With TIPS, improve at handling ID-checking requirements for sales and expand your ID-checking skills to meet state requirements and reduce liability should alcohol-related problems occur.