Does the person operating the ID scanner know what to look for?

An ID card scanner displays and records the data stored on a driver’s license, state ID or military ID. While this can help a bouncer weed out expired IDs and underage IDs, it doesn’t automatically detect fake IDs. An ID scanner is most effective when the operator knows what to look for.

Information stored on card vs. information printed on card.

The barcode and magnetic stripe on a typical driver’s license contains the name, address, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, hair color, license number, and license issue and expiration dates. The ID card scanner displays this information in an easy-to-read format on a screen and records the transaction in a database.

On many fake IDs, the information encoded on the magnetic stripe or barcode does not match what is physically written on the front of the ID card. For instance, an Identification Card may read that a person is named “Jane Doe”, but the name stored on the card reads “John Smith”. At this point, it’s up to the ID scanner operator to note this difference and realize that the ID card is indeed fake.

It is common practice for fake IDs makers to simply print new information on a card that has already been encoded with other information. Since it is much harder to encode the data stored on a magnetic stripe or barcode than it is to print on a blank card, fake ID makers often purchase pre-encoded cards in bulk and print different names, addresses and birthdays on the front. These cards are marketed to minors as “scannable fake IDs.” They will scan, but the information printed on the card will not match the information stored within the card.  If the data on the front of the card does not match the data stored in the card, it is likely that the ID is fake.

Do ID scanners run license number against official state database?

Contrary to popular belief, commercially available ID scanners do not run the license number against the official state database for authenticity. The state-controlled databases that contain license data cannot be accessed by the public. An ID scanner records the license number and information as evidence that age was diligently verified, but it does not check to see if the license number is valid in a state database. Only legal authorities can check to see if a license number is valid.

Some companies market “Fake ID Scanners.” These products are purposefully misleading. An ID scanner is a crucial tool for accessing identification card information, but it is not a machine to detect fake IDs. If you are looking to purchase an ID scanner for your business, look for a reputable company that honestly describes the capabilities and limitations of its products.


Thad recommends as a resource for more information on ID scanning products. Thad is an industry expert in the ID scanning technology field.

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