Are Fake ID’s Scannable?

Published by Jessica Arkowitz on

Are Fake ID’s Scannable? What You Need to Know

Many bouncers, convenience store clerks, and supermarket cashiers believe that the easiest way to differentiate a fake ID from a legitimate one is by scanning the ID, which can be done in a variety of ways.

This guide will provide an overview of the following topics of fake ID scanning:

  1. What is the purpose of scanning an ID?
  2. What types of fake ID scanning exist?
  3. Where will a fake ID successfully scan at?

What is the Purpose of Scanning an ID?

If you are using any kind of ID, fake or legitimate, to buy an age-restricted product or access an age-restricted location, there is a high likelihood that the bouncer, clerk, or cashier will use a scanning method to test the ID’s legitimacy. There are a few reasons why they will scan the ID:

  • Speed – If there is a long line or the clerk is impatient, they will scan the ID because it is a fast way to ensure that it is not expired (even if the ID says you are over 21, they are not allowed to make the sale if the ID is expired). It is much faster to scan the ID rather than to visually inspect each of its security features.
  • Feel – People who use fake IDs, especially those with low-quality ones, will opt to brandish their fake ID by keeping the fake ID inside the clear sleeve of their wallet. If the clerk suspects that the person is not truly over 21, they will ask to have the ID in their hand in order to scan it. Often, the purpose of this is not to actually scan it, but rather to feel the material of the ID in order to determine if it is fake.
  • It’s Required – Most supermarkets and convenience stores have a system that requires them to scan the ID in order to make sure that the person is indeed over 21 if they are buying alcohol or tobacco. After the clerk scans the product, the machine will require them to scan the customer’s ID in order to ensure that they are legally allowed to purchase that product.

What Types of Fake ID Scanning Exist?

State governments have employed a variety of security features to combat counterfeit driver’s licenses, which include scanning features. Some states have employed certain scanning features, while others have employed different scanning features. These are the security features that every state uses at least one of:

  • 1D Barcode – This looks like a standard barcode that you would see on any commercial product. These types of barcodes are present on almost every state’s driver’s license. The barcode, if encoded correctly by the fake ID vendor, contains your driver’s license number along with a short string of characters that signify the state that the driver’s license is from. This type of barcode is typically used by the DMV, law enforcement, and other government agencies in order to quickly identify a person. This barcode is not typically used by commercial vendors, as they do not have access to the information that is tied to your driver’s license number.
  • 2D Barcode – This is a rectangle comprised of carefully placed squares that contains a myriad of important information. The official name of this barcode format is PDF417. This type of barcode includes your:
    • Full Name
    • Driver’s License Number
    • Full Address
    • Birthdate
    • Expiration Date of the License
    • Issue Date of the License
    • Organ Donor Status
    • Sex, Height, Eye Color, and Weight

This type of scanning measure is included in every state’s driver’s license, and it is the scanning measure that is most commonly used by bouncers, clerks, and cashiers. This is undeniably the most important scanning measure present on your fake ID, as it is used so often.

  • Magstripe – This is the black bar that is also used on credit/debit cards. If encoded properly, it should contain your driver’s license number along with a small set of characters signifying the state that the ID is from, similar to the 1D barcode. Some state’s driver’s licenses will employ this scanning measure, but most states opt to use the 2D and 1D barcode. This scanning measure is most commonly tested at supermarkets, dispensaries, and restaurants, as these places are required to move a higher volume of customers through the door.

It is worth noting that there is a fourth method of scanning driver’s licenses that is less common than the other three. Some dispensaries and high-end bars will use box scanning technology to ensure that they are dealing with customers that are over the age of 21. A box scanner is a machine that does not scan the ID, but analyzes the front of the ID to ensure that every security feature is placed correctly. It is extremely difficult for a fake ID to successfully pass through a box scanner, however it is possible if the fake ID is an exact replica of the real deal. On the bright side, box scanners are expensive, so it is not likely that you will experience one in the real world.

Where Will a Fake ID Successfully Scan at?

Fake IDs are certainly scannable, and they will successfully scan at these locations, assuming that all of the scanning features have been encoded correctly:

  • Bars/Clubs
  • Supermarkets
  • Convenience/Liquor Stores
  • Tobacco Shops/Hookah Lounges
  • Marijuana Dispensaries
  • Restaurants Serving Alcohol
  • Marijuana/Alcohol Delivery Services

Please do not attempt to use a fake ID to purchase a firearm, commit fraud at a bank, or present it to a law enforcement officer or government official. These institutions have the ability to perform background checks and perform database searches, and they will likely use your driver’s license number to perform these actions. If they use any of the aforementioned scanning methods, your driver’s license number will appear as invalid and you could land yourself into a heap of trouble.

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