Fake IDs are becoming more popular, making them more of a challenge for anyone who has to verify identities such as bouncers, human resources, landlords, bank clerks, and – of course – police officers.
Many industries will ask customers for ID, such as hotels, retail stores, mortgage brokers, and property rental businesses. The problem is that many of these businesses don’t take the time to properly train staff to spot fake IDs. Staff should be taught the proper procedures for how to identify fake IDs and what to do if they believe an ID is fake.
The United States has some 240 different kinds of government-issued ID available to citizens. Many states use similar security features for their IDs, but some like to add a twist or two to proceedings. Some of these subtle differences can be seen by the naked eye, but others require a magnifying glass or UV light.
The California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control made things easier by creating what they call the FLAG system. Follow the FLAG system to know how to spot a California fake ID.
Don’t let someone just show you the ID. Have them take it out of their wallet and let you see and feel it up close. There are many security features that can be felt but not seen. If someone is reluctant to hand over their ID then it is likely fake. Take note of the following things;
- A California ID or drivers’ license issued after September 2010 has raised numbers for the date of birth. You should be able to feel these numbers. If not, you’ve got a fake ID. This is a simple check that can catch out any shoddy fake ID.
- The signature on the card should also be raised. This is another quick check you can do. If you can touch the signature then it could be a sign the card is genuine.
- Try to put your fingernail inside the corner of the card. California IDs are made with three layers bonded through heat treatments. The layers of the card shouldn’t separate. If they do, it’s likely a fake ID.
- Feel the card for any lumps and bumps and any indications that something has been cut out and pasted to the ID.
Take a good look at the ID, in particular look for the following things;
- Check to see if there is a laser shape of the California Brown Bear on the back of the card by pressing a flashlight against it.
- Which side is the photograph on? An adult ID is horizontal with the image on the left. ID cards for minors are vertical with an image on the right. Most customers ignore “Photo Instructions for fake IDs” while ordering.
- Take a good look at the photograph itself. Focus in particular on the facial features. Look at the “Triangle of Recognition” of the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and chin. People can change their hairstyle but they can’t change those facial features. Find things that can’t be changed so easily. If the person in the photo has dimples but the person in front of you doesn’t, then it is a major red flag that the ID is fake.
- Look at the Birthdate on the card and ask yourself if the person looks as old as the card says they do. Check to see if the date has been tampered with.
- Take a look at the person who handed you the card. Does their height and weight match up with the information on the card? People gain and lose weight all the time but they should update their card in the event of a drastic shift. Height is something that is even more difficult to change.
- Check the ID for
any spelling mistakesor other obvious mistakes. You’d be surprised how common these kinds of small mistakes are. Mistakes are much more common with low quality fake IDs.
You can use the information on the card to catch the person out. Bouncers are excellent at doing this. The good ones are, anyway. If you are suspicious about the ID or the person holding it, ask them to verify some information on the card with questions such as;
- What is your license number?
- What is your zip code?
- What is your zodiac sign? Some people use a fake birthday for their ID and it could mean that their ID has a different zodiac sign. This question requires you to know which sign is assigned to which month, but it’s a great way to catch people out in a lie.
- Could you sign your name please? Check their signature against the signature on the card to see if they match up. Signatures can vary a little but there shouldn’t be a dramatic change between the two signatures.
If you believe that the card is genuine and has passed inspection, then give it back to the cardholder. If you believe the ID could be fake, then you have two options at this point. You can either turn the person away and refuse to do business with them, or you can keep the card and file a police report against the person.
The California Business and Professions Code 25659 covers what businesses should do with seized IDs. The law says that you must give the cardholder a receipt and attach a copy of that receipt to the fake ID.
Keep a third copy of the receipt in your business records along with a report on the situation. Take note of who confiscated the ID, where they did it, and why they did it. You have to turn the ID itself over to the police within 24 hours of seizure.
Take steps to ensure the security of your workers and place of business. Not everyone will be happy to hand over their ID. Even a photocopy of the ID will help the police so feel free to give it back if things look dangerous. Make sure your bouncers are trained in how to handle unruly people.
If you aren’t completely sure if the ID is fake or not you can always ask them for a secondary identification.
Just the Beginning
While most fake IDs are used for things like underage drinking, they are also used for more sinister acts. Fake IDs are strongly connected to identity theft, which is a serious crime that shouldn’t be ignored. Statistics show that an identity is stolen in the United States roughly every 2 seconds.
Around half of all identity theft crimes involve the use of a fake ID. If every person responsible for checking IDs knew how to spot and deal with a fake ID, then identity theft crimes could be halved in an instant.
Take the time to properly train staff to recognize fake IDs and respond appropriately. Doing this will help to protect you and your business. If you continue to just accept all IDs sight unseen then the onus is on you when a fake ID slips through.