Due Diligence: Are You Properly Checking ID?

By Cristina Jerney

September 6th, 2020

Frontline gatekeepers, or anyone who checks ID as a part of their job, know firsthand the damage that fake IDs can cause. Crimes such as underage use of controlled product to identity theft and fraud to human trafficking are all linked to the use of fake IDs. Luckily, all it takes is for one person to recognize a fake and prevent a potential crime.

When checking ID, the law stipulates that you must exercise due diligence to check ID to confirm age or identity. But what does this really mean?

Checking ID may seem like a simple task, but that could not be further from the truth. With hundreds of valid versions and variations of driver licenses and millions of fake IDs in circulation in the United States, gatekeepers are expected to accurately assess if an ID is real or fake. If they are unable to, their job and livelihood is at risk, their employers may be subject to fines, business licenses may be suspended or revoked, and, in a worst case scenario, the business could be shut down.

IDs are issued by the 50 states, 5 US territories, 3 freely associated states, and Washington, DC, each with unique designs that change frequently. On top of this, there are several versions of each state or territory’s license that remain valid at any given time. New versions are released frequently. This all adds up to hundreds of versions and variations of IDs, making it impossible to truly know how a valid ID may look or feel.

Knowing this, how could a gatekeeper reasonably check any one of these valid IDs in circulation? The only possible way is having 24/7 access to clear, correct, and current images of these IDs.

Some states mandate server training, which, while well-intentioned, is often ineffective. Sessions are sporadic at best, and while they attempt to give attendees a broad overview of sales and service, they don’t cover the comprehensive ID marketplace, and there is no way gatekeepers can memorize hundreds of variations of ID in a single training.

Similarly, ID books might seem like an easy resource for gatekeepers to use, but these books are often out of date very quickly as states issue new variations of valid ID. Also, the books typically contain a limited selection of IDs, and may, for example, include only one or two of four to six IDs valid in any particular state.

Finally, though some states point to scanners as an easy, cost-effective solution, they are unreliable and possibly more trouble than they are worth. Fake IDs are built to pass scanners, which rely on outdated technology that is easily forged. Furthermore, scanners don’t authenticate the identity of the ID holder. This is something only a gatekeeper can do, by ensuring that the information and photo on the ID match the person standing in front of them.

Using a scanner does not constitute due diligence in checking ID. Each of the above methods have serious flaws that can easily allow fakes to slip through the cracks. The key to successful ID checking is a resource that not only provides practical tips and tricks for checking ID, but also has up-to-date information on valid IDs.

Checking ID doesn’t have to be a mammoth or inherently risky task. With the right tools and resources, gatekeepers can confidently check ID, knowing that they are protecting themselves, their business, and their community.

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