Posted on: February 10, 2023

FEAR Method of Carding: How to Spot a Fake ID in Pennsylvania

FEAR Method of Carding

Spotting fake IDs can be a challenge for those who work in industries that require customers to present valid identification, such as liquor stores, bars, and nightclubs. In Pennsylvania, it is vital for those who work in these industries to know how to spot a fake ID, as selling or serving alcohol to minors is against the law and can result in severe consequences. However, with the increasing accuracy of fake IDs, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a real ID and a Pennsylvania phony ID. In this post, we'll discuss how you can use the FEAR method of carding to help spot a fake PA ID. 

What does FEAR stand for? 

FEAR stands for: 

  • Feel 
  • Examine 
  • Ask 
  • Return  

The FEAR method of carding is a simple process that can be used as a guide for verifying the authenticity of IDs:

  1. Feel. Physically handle the ID and look for signs of tampering, such as altered or missing security features.
  2. Examine. Closely examine the ID, including the photo, personal information, such as date of birth, and security features.
  3. Ask. Ask the individual to provide additional information to verify their identity.
  4. Return. Return it to the individual and know where the alcohol is going.

How do you spot a fake ID in Pennsylvania?

According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) recommends using the FEAR carding method each time you check an individual for identification. 

In more detail, Pennsylvania RAMP recommends you: 

  1. Feel For:

  • Bumpy surfaces or a glue line by the picture or birth date.
  • The thickness of an ID. If it's been re-laminated, it may be thicker.
  • Pin holes on the surface.

   2. Examine:

  • The photo and physical description. They should match the individual giving you the ID.
  • The expiration date. DO NOT accept an expired ID.
  • The birth date. Did you calculate it correctly? Are they 21?
  • The state logo. If its appearance looks altered, it might be a fake ID.
  • The hologram - does it appear authentic?
  • The card's backside. Look for blurred lettering and credibility disclaimers.
  • Whether it is an out-of-state license, use an ID-checking guide when looking at an unfamiliar license.

  3. Ask:

  • About the information on the card, such as the birth date, zip code, age, etc.
  • For a second form of ID. People with fake IDs are not likely to have backup identification.
  • To fill out and sign a Declaration of Age card (PLCB-931).

  4. Return:

  • If you have confirmed that the proof of age is valid, you may allow the person to be served.
  • If you're still not convinced, do not serve them. 

It is important to remember that the FEAR carding method is not foolproof. However, when done correctly, this practice can significantly reduce liability. 

Can a Minor Sit at a Bar in Pennsylvania? 

No, PA alcohol laws do not allow minors to sit at a bar in Pennsylvania. According to state law, individuals under the age of 21 are not allowed to enter an area of a licensed establishment where alcohol is sold or consumed, but there are exceptions. 

So, can a minor sit at a bar in a restaurant? According to the PLCB, the general rule in Pennsylvania is that no one under 21 years of age may be present in an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. 47 P.S. § 493(14). However, there are five exceptions to the general rule. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE), the five exceptions are as follows: 

1. Minors with parents ("Parent exception")

If a minor is accompanied by one or both parents, they are allowed to be on the premises of a licensed establishment and can sit in any area, including the bar area. Alcoholic beverages can then be served to the parent(s) or any other adult accompanying the minor.

2. Minors with legal guardians ("Guardian exception")

If a legal guardian accompanies a minor, they are allowed to be on the premises of a licensed establishment and can sit in any area, including the bar area. Alcoholic beverages can then be served to the legal guardian or any adult accompanying the minor.

3. Minors under proper supervision ("Proper supervision exception")

If a minor is present with appropriate supervision, they can be on the premises. Adequate supervision is an individual 25 years or older responsible for the minor's behavior and safety while on the premises and keeping the minor in sight.

If a minor is under proper supervision on the premises, they are allowed to sit in any area, including the bar area. Alcoholic beverages can then be served to any adults accompanying the minor. 

4. Minors attending a social gathering ("Social gathering exception")

If a minor is present at a social gathering, they can be on the licensed premises. A social gathering is an event targeted towards minors, either fully or partially, for which the BLCE has received at least 48 hours of advance notice. It's important to note that no alcohol can be served to anyone, including adults, during a social gathering. 

5. Minors at food-oriented establishments ("Pizza Hut exception")

To qualify for this exception, a licensee must ensure that:

  • Sales of food and nonalcoholic beverages at the licensed premises during the preceding 12-month licensing year are at least 50% of the combined gross sales of both food and alcoholic beverages.
  • The minors must not be seated at the bar section of the establishment.
  • No alcohol is to be served at the table or booth where the minor is seated unless they are appropriately accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or are under proper supervision.

Please keep in mind that this exception does not apply to clubs.

A parent, legal guardian, or proper supervisor is not necessary if the above requirements check out. 

Minors are not allowed on licensed premises unless they meet one of the exceptions previously mentioned. It's important to note that a licensed establishment has the right to establish its own rules regarding when minors are allowed on the premises, even if they comply with state regulations. 

What is the Pizza Hut law in Pennsylvania? 

The "Pizza Hut law" in Pennsylvania is referred to in Section 493(14) of the Liquor Code (47 P. S. § 4-493(14)), which creates several exceptions to the general prohibition of minors being present in licensed premises. As mentioned earlier, one of these exceptions is the "Pizza Hut exception," which allows minors to be present in a licensed establishment that sells food and nonalcoholic beverages, such as a restaurant or hotel (excluding clubs), if these sales make up at least 50% of the establishment's total food and alcoholic beverage sales.

This law is often called the "Pizza Hut law" because the chain was one of the first to implement the policy in response to state regulations. 

By enforcing the FEAR method of carding and the exceptions to the PA alcohol laws mentioned above, the state hopes to reduce instances of underage drinking and ensure public safety. 

As a seller or server of alcohol in Pennsylvania, you can reduce illegal alcohol sales in Pennsylvania by signing up for our Pennsylvania RAMP Server/Seller Training program, which covers the laws that servers and sellers must follow in Pennsylvania.