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Spotting Fake IDs

Whether it happens with your customers or in the process of hiring a new employee, it is vital to recognize the differences between fake identification documents and genuine documentation. Although it is not necessary for you to be document experts, it is important to practice reasonable care in the event of suspicious documents and take steps to avoid accepting unauthorized patrons or employees.

Detecting Fake Documentation for New Hires
In the process of hiring new employees, the use of fake identification may occur when an employee completes the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you should accept the documentation as valid if it appears to be reasonably genuine and is on the list of acceptable documents, which includes the following:

  • List “A” documents: These are documents that establish both identity and employment authorization. If employees present a valid List “A” document, do not ask them to present any other identification document.  
    • U.S. passport or passport card
    • Permanent resident card or alien registration receipt card (Form I-551)
    • Employment authorization document card (Form I-766)
    • Foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A with arrival-departure record and an endorsement to work
    • Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of the Marshall Islands with Form I-94 or I-94A
    • Foreign passport with a Form I-551 stamp or Form I-551 printed notation
  • List “B” documents: These are documents that establish identity only. If employees present a valid List “B” document, you are permitted to ask for a document containing employment authorization as well.
    • Driver’s license
    • ID card issued by a federal, state or local government entity (with a photograph)
  • List “C” documents: These are documents that establish employment authorization only. If employees present a valid List “C” document, you are permitted to ask for a document that establishes identity.
    • U.S. Social Security card
    • Consular report of birth abroad (Form FS-240)
    • Certification of birth abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State

Although it is necessary to accept documentation as valid if it appears genuine, be aware of the signs of obvious fraudulent identification, such as the following:

  • Spelling or grammar usage errors
  • Incorrect form numbers or combinations such as “1-551” rather than “I-551”
  • Incorrect permanent resident card document number or no number at all (should be three letters followed by 10 numbers)
  • Expired identification
  • Forged or copied identification

In instances where there is suspicion of fraudulent identification, you are permitted to ask for additional proof of identity. If a potential employee fails to present additional identification, this is grounds to release or terminate the employee.

Helping Employees Catch Fake Identification
In establishments that require patrons to provide identification, it is important to educate employees on how to best detect fraudulent identification.  

Typically, patrons are expected to provide List “B” documentation for purchases or entry into age-restricted establishments, such as a driver’s license. To help employees detect a fraudulent driver’s license, provide the following resources:

  • An ultraviolet (UV) light source
  • A magnification source
  • The “Security Features” section of the U.S. Identification Manual

Although it can be difficult to detect a fraudulent driver’s license and employees are expected to confirm identification quickly, the following tips can help simplify the process of spotting a fake identification.

  • Unique line patterns—Many fake ID cards contain a pattern of fine lines across the card that create a web-like curve. This can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Laser perforation—Fake ID cards sometimes possess small holes across the card created by a laser beam in the process of image reproduction. These small holes can be identified either through touch or with a UV light source.
  • Overlapping data—Often times, fake ID cards attempt to discretely overlap card data, such as placing height or weight information over a signature or photo image. This can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Film overlay—Fake ID cards are sometimes sealed with an ultra-thin protective coating across the surface. This overlay can be seen either with a UV light source or by slowly tilting the card to spot lamination.  
  • Tactile features—In some cases, fake ID cards contain obvious tactile features that differ from genuine documentation. By touching the card, tilting it or analyzing it with the naked eye, it is simple to detect uncharacteristic features such as decreased weight, unique textures or flexibility.
  • Opacity mark—Fake ID cards often possess a “watermark” of sorts that can be seen either when the card is tilted or with a UV light source.
  • Small changes—In certain cases, fake ID cards contain miniscule changes that are unique to the state in which the card claims to be from. By using the U.S. Identification Manual, these changes, such as an extra line or incorrect pattern, can often be detected with the naked eye.
  • The wrong person—Sometimes, patrons will use a genuine ID card, but it doesn’t belong to them. Be sure to double-check that the ID card picture matches the patron and that they can tell you the information on the card.

If an employee suspects fraudulent identification from a patron, they are permitted to ask for a second form of identification. If the patron cannot provide additional documentation, employees are permitted to refuse service.

Contact our team of Specialty Risk professionals at Marshall & Sterling with all your Pawnshop concerns. Call (800) 333.3766 x-5550 to learn more about spotting fake identification.

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