Scanners are No Match for Fake IDs

By Cristina Jerney

September 6th, 2020

There is an understandable draw to a convenient technology that claims to offer a panacea to gatekeepers across industries, seemingly allowing for easy and quick ID checking. However, these claims could not be further from the truth, and may ultimately cause more damage to businesses.

Scanners have been on the market for a long time, and fake ID manufacturers have adapted accordingly. Most quality fake IDs market themselves as “scannable.” They effortlessly get through most, if not all, scanners. They do this by simply exploiting the outdated technology on IDs: barcodes and magnetic stripes. Both are “technologies” created over half a century ago. Barcodes are easily created and printed and can be easily replicated with real data. Magnetic stripes are easily re-encoded. All the scanner does is read stripes on a barcode or magnetic bits on a stripe. The scanner is doing nothing more than reading the information encoded on the now fake ID.

Therefore, there can be no real authentication of a valid ID using a scanner. The scanner will recognize that the ID has some kind of data, like age or date of birth, both of which can be changed to establish the holder as over 21. While some scanners may say that they verify information against a DMV database, this only confirms the information that is encoded on the ID, not that it matches the holder of the ID. Even police scanners can be fooled this way.

Furthermore, some scanners may be able to verify the presence of microprint or holograms, but do not have the ability to check whether the microprint is printed correctly or if the holograms are actually forgeries. It really takes a human eye that knows exactly what to look for to thoroughly check the security features on an ID to make sure it’s real - and that is exactly what state laws require. State laws require due diligence in thoroughly checking an ID, and sliding an ID through a slot is not considered due diligence.

Moreover, not all fake IDs are forged. Common fakes include stolen and borrowed real IDs, which naturally fly through scanners. Gatekeepers are responsible not only for verifying the validity of an ID, but ensuring that the ID belongs to the person presenting it.

Scanners also present serious privacy and security issues. When reading IDs, they may capture personally identifiable information (PII), such as an ID holder’s name, address, and birth date. This information can then be used to commit fraud, identity theft, and other crimes. Depending on how the scanner works, this data is stored in a potentially insecure server or device and may be highly susceptible to hackers. The fines for a hack that violate privacy laws can be devastating, as well as damaging to the reputation of your business.

Organizations have not only a legal obligation but also a moral and social responsibility to ensure that their gatekeepers can thoroughly check ID. Scanners are more likely to open businesses up to various vulnerabilities than effectively spot fake IDs. Ultimately, there is no match for a gatekeeper who has learned the ins and outs of IDs and who is backed up by the resources to help them spot the differences between real and fake.

In conclusion, sliding an ID through a scanner does not constitute checking ID, and can leave you and your business vulnerable to financial and legal consequences. Have any questions about learning to properly and thoroughly check ID? Get in touch with us or check out our app here.

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