May 31, 2016

How to Spot a Fake ID

A fake ID can be a liability for many companies and organizations. Fraudulent IDs are used for identity theft, white-collar crime, terrorism, and other harmful activities. While card printing technology has advanced significantly over the past decade, it's still possible to identify many types of fake IDs.

Production of Fake IDs

Most fake IDs are produced on PVC cards. These cards are the same material found in a real ID card. Many of the details found on a legitimate driver's license can be replicated on a criminal's PVC card design. However, there are several features that can be difficult to replicate on a modern ID.

Different companies and organizations will use different standards for protecting an ID system. Smaller companies, schools, and other groups may not use extensive technology to combat fake IDs. Larger companies, government groups, and driver's licenses will use many different watermarks and design elements that can be used to verify the integrity of ID.

Design Elements

Many driver's licenses in the United States have been redesigned over the past few years. While all states use different technologies for a driver's license, most are working towards ID card systems that can't be duplicated by criminals.

Driver's licenses usually contain a raised signature of the state's governor, multiple photos, an embossed design, holograms, and a raised seal from that state. While some criminal groups are able to replicate a hologram, it can be extremely difficult to copy all the design elements found in a legitimate ID card.

In addition, many driver's licenses will use a black PVC card that contains proprietary markings. This can include a background design, a clear section in a card, and other elements that can't be replicated through printing.

Many card printers come with proprietary technology that can be used to print security features. This can include micro-print, UV ink, and layered-ink technology. Some of these features will be patented, which will prevent their use by other companies. This can add a valuable layer of security without imposing an additional cost on card fabrication.

Identifying Fake IDs

While a fake ID may have a sloppy or unprofessional appearance, it will often have a high-quality appearance with missing design elements. It essential to verify any ID card against a legitimate card. This will help ensure that all the watermarks, holograms, and other elements are in the proper location. In addition, many IDs can be scanned to verify the information on the front of a card.

Many law enforcement groups provide tools to help companies and organizations identify fake ID cards. There are some books that provide examples of legitimate IDs. These books allow a security worker to verify the integrity of different card systems using their unique design elements.

One of the best ways to verify a fake ID is with a 2-step authentication program. This will require security personnel to verify 2 separate types of ID. Most criminals don't have access to multiple forms of fake ID. This can be an effective and simple way to minimize the presence of fake ID with a minimal cost to an organization.

Image by drewgstephen and licensed through Creative Commons.


Steve Stoltz is a sales representative at, a Plastic Badge Printer online merchant that offers all-in-one printing packages, visitor tracking and lobby management software, and a full line of supplies and accessories.


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