25 Simple Ways To Tell If An ID Is Fake

Posted by , Updated on January 5, 2024

Have you ever wondered how to spot a fake ID? Whether you’re a bouncer, liquor store owner, or you work in security, you need to know how to spot a fake ID. Plenty of fake IDs are poorly made and easy to spot. However, don’t get cocky. Counterfeiters are more crafty than ever. With new technology and sophisticated techniques, they’ve kept up with the latest security measures and fooled the experts. But, even with the upgraded fake IDs, there are plenty of simple ways to spot the fake from the real. Here are 25 Simple Ways To Tell If An ID Is Fake.



Look for the Real ID

walletSource: https://billypenn.com/2015/04/09/philly-bouncers-bust-20-under-agers-a-night-how-to-spot-and-fight-fake-ids/

When the person reaches for their ID in their wallet or purse, be extra careful to see if you can spot their real ID hanging out in a pocket somewhere. Sometimes they even will hand over their real ID on accident.


Check Body Language

nervousSource: https://billypenn.com/2015/04/09/philly-bouncers-bust-20-under-agers-a-night-how-to-spot-and-fight-fake-ids/

Most people can have the best fake ID, but their body language will give themselves away. If they show signs of being nervous, like weird eye contact, ask them their address, and they might get even more uncomfortable.



horoscopeSource: https://careertrend.com/how-8525347-spot-fake-missouri-ids.html

It’s not foolproof, but if you have doubts the ID is real, then ask the person what their horoscope sign is based on the birth date of the card.


Compare the ID with Another

compare idSource: https://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Fake-I.D.

If you have a valid copy of an ID on hand, you can compare it to the one you’re given to ensure it’s valid. For instance, if the ID they gave you is thinner than the real one, that’s usually a red flag it’s a fake.


Check Grammar

grammarSource: https://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Fake-I.D.

Believe it or not, many fake IDs still get basic grammar wrong and could misspell a state abbreviation or address. So, keep a sharp eye out for those mistakes.


Compare the Photo

mclovinSource: https://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Fake-I.D., https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/5-steps.html

While people may change hairstyles, get earrings, or wear a new pair of glasses, generally they should look the same as their photo. Look for things that don’t change much like nose, ears, eyes, eyebrows, and chin.


Look at the Description

fake id

Other than checking to see if the person matches the photo, it’s not a bad idea to check the description information, such as eye color and hair color.


Most Used States

drivers licenseSource: https://www.society19.com/bouncer-insight-how-to-spot-a-fake-id/

The most faked IDs in the United States are Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Illinois. If you ever see these IDs, especially if they’re out-of-state, immediately be skeptical and check for the quick and easy signs that it’s fake.


Height and Weight

California_Drivers_LicenseSource: http://www.sellerserver.com/Illinois/checking-ids.html

Look at the height and weight of the card and see if they come close to that description. If they look substantially off from what is on the card, you can ask them what their height and weight is. If the information they give you plus their description doesn’t match up, then it’s likely a fake.



flying squadSource: https://www.society19.com/bouncer-insight-how-to-spot-a-fake-id/

Real IDs never have a good looking signature. They’re usually a couple of line squiggles because it’s so hard to write on the digital pad they make you use. So, if the ID has a signature that’s too perfect, like a font used in Microsoft Word, then it’s definitely a fake.


Watch for Patterns

barrack obama idSource: http://www.mtv.com/news/1998398/fake-id-bouncers/

Often lots of teenagers will buy fake IDs in large batches with the same state. If a ton of teenage girls from Hawaii are trying to get into a New York club, you’ll want to take a closer look at their IDs because the likelihood of that is very rare.


Laser Perforation

laser perforationSource: https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/spot-fake-id-infographic.html

Most state IDs have laser perforation where the laser makes tiny holes to form an image. Usually, the image is of the state it’s from. You can only see the image if you hold it up to a light. So when you hold up a flashlight to the card and the laser perforation doesn’t show up, it’s a fake.


Laser Image on Back

back of cardSource: https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/spot-fake-id-infographic.html

On the back of some state IDs, there should be a laser engraved image that you can see if you tilt the ID back and forth. Not all have it, but it’s a good thing to check regardless.


Fine-line Patterns

hand offSource: https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/spot-fake-id-infographic.html

Some IDs will have fine-line patterns that will often go in a wavy motion. States like Vermont use this for security, so you’ll have to remember which states use this for verification.


Thick Photo

fake picSource: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2016/01/notary-guide-spotting-spot-fake-ids

Run your thumb across the photo image. If it feels thick, bumpy, or has an edge, then they likely pasted a new image overtop of the real image.


Ghost Image

ghost imageSource: https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/spot-fake-id-infographic.html

Some IDs will have a ghost image of the existing photo off to the side of the larger photo. Obviously, if that ghost image isn’t the same as the larger image, something is up. Not all IDs, of course, have that ghost image.



overlaySource: https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/spot-fake-id-infographic.html

Many real IDs will have an ultra-thin layering over the card that acts as a protective coating and an extra layer of security. Flash a light on it and you’ll see it. As an example, the state of Ohio uses this overlay.


Blurred Lettering

blurred lettersSource: https://www.nbwa.org/news/10-ways-spot-fake-id

Counterfeiters may be able to make the front look perfect but often just photocopy the back. Flip the card over and check for blurred lettering or signs of a photocopy.


UV Light

uv lightSource: https://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Fake-I.D.

Some state IDs have hidden images and features only visible with UV light. Flash a UV light over the card and you can quickly detect if the image is present or not. If it doesn’t show up, there’s a likelihood it’s fake.


Rainbow Printing

rainbow printingSource: https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/spot-fake-id-infographic.html

Some states like Minnesota have rainbow printing on their driver’s license IDs. This printing is a controlled color shift in a linear fashion across the card. If it doesn’t show this color shift, it’s likely not a real ID.



id barcodeSource: https://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Fake-I.D.

With your smartphone, there are now apps available to scan the ID’s barcode. This will immediately give you the information of the card or tell you if it’s a fake.



microprintSource: https://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Fake-I.D.

With more sophisticated technology, counterfeiters have been able to make very realistic looking IDs. In turn, states have been using microprint to verify if an ID is real or not. It’s tricky to detect, but if you have a small pocket magnifying glass on hand, you can quickly see if the microprint is visible.


Tactile Laser Engraving

new york stateSource: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/n-y-tips-bars-spying-bogus-ids-article-1.2331520

Some IDs, like New York State IDs, will have tactile laser engraving. Just run your thumb across the lettering on the ID number, birth date, and signature, and you should be able to feel it.


Polycarbonate Material

hollow polycarbonateSource: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/n-y-tips-bars-spying-bogus-ids-article-1.2331520

Many IDs today are being made out of a special material to distinguish itself from fakes. In New York, their IDs are made of polycarbonate material. If you drop it on a hard surface, it’ll make a unique metallic sound.


Use the FEAR Method

bouncerSource: https://billypenn.com/2015/04/09/philly-bouncers-bust-20-under-agers-a-night-how-to-spot-and-fight-fake-ids/

Okay, we’ll be honest, that was a lot to remember. When in doubt, you can follow these simple guidelines that the state of Pennsylvania calls the FEAR method. 1. Feel for glue lines, bumpy surfaces, or pin holes. 2. Examine for holograms or lettering on the reverse side. 3. Ask about basic information on the card. 4. Return it if you’re satisfied they met the requirements.

Photo: Featured Image - Shutterstock, 1. Zcoffin, ZacharyCoffin-Bouncer, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 2. OpenCage, Hollow Polycarbonate, CC BY-SA 2.0, 3. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 4. uk.wikipedia.org (Public Domain), 5. PROyoungthousands, IMG_3962, CC BY 2.0, 6. Viollits, DNIe3.0 Spanish ID Card, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 7. Shaw Air Force Base (Public Domain), 8. Magnus D, Provisional Licence, CC BY 2.0, 9. Kellimaroney, 2016 Drivers License Front 01, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 10. PRODoug Coldwell, NC Driver's license expired 2003, CC BY 2.0, 11. basic_sounds, rob elliott / fake id, CC BY-SA 2.0, 12. Holloman Air Force Base (Public Domain), 13. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 14. Fairchild Air Force Base (Public Domain), 15. Beachfront Solutions, Obama's Hawaiian Drivers License, CC BY-SA 2.0, 16. Stuart Axe, Fake I.D., CC BY 2.0, 17. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 18. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 19. Brett L., SHARON!, CC BY-SA 2.0, 20. Drew Stephens, Fake ID and Fake ID, CC BY-SA 2.0, 21. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 22. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 23. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 24. Maxwell GS on Flickr, Nervous, CC BY 2.0 , 25. PxHere.com (Public Domain)