Fake IDs are commonly used to allow the bearer to gain entry where they would normally not be permitted.  Bars, nightclubs and other establishments that require a person to be of a certain age are prime targets.  Generally, the person will be attempting to gain entry in order to purchase alcohol or tobacco products.  It is the responsibility of the business to ensure that patrons are in possession of a valid and accurate identification prior to entry.  Many states have different requirements in terms of which id’s are acceptable.  Local and state laws dictate which forms of identification are to be allowed, but most have a few laws in common.  The use of a fake ID or a valid ID belonging to another individual is prohibited nationwide. 




Legal forms of identification in Louisiana:

Under Louisiana State Law, only the following (5) forms of identification constitute
“legal” proof of age:
Valid and current:
(1) Louisiana driver’s license which contains a photo of the same person presenting the

(2) Driver’s license of another state which contains a photo of the same person
presenting the identification.

(3) Special identification card issued by the State of Louisiana containing a photo of the
person presenting the identification.

(4) A passport or visa issued by the federal government or another country that contains
a permanently attached photograph and date of birth of the person presenting the

(5) Military or federal identification card issued by the federal government containing a
photo and date of birth of the person presenting the identification.


Here are some of the common ways to identify fraudulent IDs.

There are three basic types of ID fraud: Borrowed, Fake, and Altered. Modern and enhanced security features have changed the way that ID fraud occurs. Borrowed IDs are by far the most common method of ID fraud, followed by Fake IDs, and more rarely Altered IDs. Here are some of the ways you can spot problems.

Borrowed IDs – The Most Common Form of ID Fraud

Borrowed IDs are now the most common form of ID fraud. It is estimated that 95% of all ID fraud originates with a borrowed ID. Minors get borrowed IDs from several sources: they use the ID of an older sibling, an older friend, or get an ID of a stranger through their friends and friend networks.

Here are some suggestions for spotting the borrowed ID:

  • Compare the photograph on the ID with the person standing in front of you and question discrepancies (the cardholder counts on the fact that a store clerk will be too busy to inspect the ID closely).
  • Review and compare other physical descriptors like height and weight.
  • Look for signs of duplicate cards, such as “DUPL” stamp.
  • Watch for expired cards.
  • Ask questions!
    • Ask the cardholder to verify personal data on the card.
    • Obtain a signature and compare it to the one on the card.
    • Ask the cardholder what their middle initial stands for.
    • Purposely mispronounce their name or misstate their middle initial to see if the cardholder instinctively gives the correct information.
  • Look for signs of deceit.
    • Does the cardholder avoid eye contact, exhibit unusual hesitation when answering, behave nervously, attempt to intimidate, or do their eyes track upwards (as if to recall or make something up)?


Fake IDs

In an effort to keep up with the modern security enhancements of real IDs, manufacturers of faked IDs are using advanced technology to create very “real” looking fakes. The internet has become a prime resource to purchase these IDs. The best way to spot fakes is to do a visual and physical examination of the ID in question, and to be familiar with what a real ID in your community looks like.

  • Often, fake IDs appear to be issued by a state other than where the ID will be used, hoping that the person checking the ID is unfamiliar with out-of-state IDs. For example, the presenter will tender a Texas ID to get into a bar in Louisiana. An ID reference guide can be purchased containing pictures of different versions of IDs from every state, including foreign countries, as well as identifying the important security features to assist with identifying fake IDs.
  • Use a feel test. Genuine IDs are not layered and are made of durable plastic. As a result, genuine IDs do not unravel or buckle. Fake IDs are often made with inferior products and layered. Fake IDs buckle or begin to peel apart when manipulated. Bending the edge or attempting to peel apart the ID can improve the chances of identifying a fake ID.
  • Compare security features. Holograms should flash in and out on a genuine ID. Look out for holograms that remain consistently illuminated, regardless of how much light is reflected on the card. This will indicate a fake ID. Also, be familiar with the holograms on Louisiana’s license. There are four images of the State of Louisiana. Any other hologram on a purported Louisiana license is evidence that it is a fake.
  • Inspect both the front and back of the ID. Because often the maker of the fake ID does not put as much effort into the back, the back should be inspected as carefully as the front.
  • Swipe the magnetic strip. If the ID is genuine, the magnetic strip, once swiped, should reveal information regarding the presenter’s age, date of birth, etc. Most fake IDs, even high quality fake IDs, will fail to recognize the ID or return a message that the ID cannot be verified when the magnetic strip is swiped.

Altered IDs

Modern IDs are much harder to alter than in the past. For example, given the advancement of ID printing methods and the use of specialized plastic material, altering an IDs photo is extremely difficult as is rarely seen on newer forms of ID. The current trend in ID altering is to change the date of birth, “Under 18 Until,” or “Under 21 Until” dates. The most common technique to alter IDs is to use clear fingernail polish or superglue and write or print new dates on top of the polish or glue. So to spot altered IDs look for the following:

  • Check for small raised spots or small shiny spots over the date of birth or “Under Until” dates.
  • Check for changes in font or coloration
  • Different types of fonts on the card
  • Smudging or bleeding of colors on the card
  • Raised spots or ridges on the cards


Ways to double check IDs

– Check birth date, expiration date, and photograph.
– If out of state license, check “ID Checkit guide” for style of particular state.
– If the identification is a duplicate, request second form of identification.
– Check eye and hair color, weight and height.
– Check restrictions on license. Ex: “Minor”.
– Check the identification itself for physical alterations or possible tampering. (glue lines,
bumpy surface, overlays, etc.)
– If the person is wearing an item or jewelry with initials, check the initials against the
– Be mindful of other people communicating with the person. They may slip up and call
the person by a different name than that on the I.D.
– Quiz the person on personal data included on the I.D. – They should be able to
respond without hesitation if it is their true information.
– Learn and remember the zodiac signs. This can be an extremely clever way to
discover a fake I.D. Almost EVERYONE knows their zodiac sign, even if they don’t
believe in astrology.

Physical inspection of the ID.

  • Check the card’s rigidity. A fake ID will often have different weight and/or thickness of a real ID. Gently squeeze the ID to determine if the card feels right.
  • Check the card’s edges. Almost all IDs have rounded edges around the entire ID. If the edges feel square it is possible the card has a false front.
  • Check and feel the front and back of the ID. Feel for bumps, ridges and irregularities.
  • Check the IDs corners. A real IDs corners cannot be split or peeled back. If you can peel back or split the IDs corners with your nail, it is likely a fake ID.
  • Visual inspection of the ID.
  • Do a general visual examination of the overall appearance, fonts and coloration patterns, and look for any known security features that should be present on valid IDs.
  • Don’t forget to examine the back of the ID. Creators of fake IDs take great care to replicate the front of the ID but put less effort into the back.


Over the last decade, U.S. states and Canadian provinces have made significant security upgrades to their drivers’ licenses and identification cards. While some of these features are only visible with special equipment (UV light source, magnification) other security features can be detected by the naked eye, by touch, or by simply tilting a card or holding it up to a light source. The infographic shows some of these easily verifiable features of drivers’ licenses and identification cards.

There is no universal standard for what security features are used on IDs and where they are located on the ID.

When in doubt, it is a good idea to get a second opinion of a co-worker or manager.  If still in doubt, it is acceptable to refuse entry.  It is not recommended that you seize or retain the fake identification and/or detain the person presenting it.  Check your local laws as it pertains to your responsibilities in reporting these activities to law enforcement. 




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