ID verification, validation, and authentication | What’s the difference?

face matching using a selfie in our digital identity verification product

Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 03:08 pm

Not all identity verification is created equally. Many businesses think they are performing age verification, when the hardware and software they are using is not actually equipped to detect suspicious IDs. Today’s fake IDs can be imperceptible to the naked eye. ID authentication is the most stringent level of forensic document analysis available, but it is not the only option for scanning and examining IDs and passports.

So, what level of ID verification are you performing at your business?

What is ID scanning?

ID scanning simply means an ID was digitally scanned. As there are hundreds of ID scanners on the market today, there is wide variance in scanning accuracy and fake ID detection.

ID scanning does not necessarily include any level of verification or authentication. In many cases, the scanning software is simply calculating if the birth and expiration dates indicate that a given individual is of age, and that their ID is not expired. There are no requirements for embedded security features.

ID scanning typically involves scanning the 2D barcode on the ID, but it can also be performed using optical character recognition (OCR), however this is slower and less accurate.

What is 2D barcode security?

At IDScan.net our AI performs more than 75 algorithmic security checks on the 2D barcode (PDF417) during digital scanning.

These are essentially what could be called “easter egg checks.” Most ID formats have some intentional quirks
or known consistencies. This might be something as simple as “for all Nebraska IDs, the ID number always starts with an A or a Q.” These are validation points that our algorithms have identified over our 15+ years scanning IDs, and so we’ve built them into our 2D barcode security checks to help catch some fake IDs.

2D barcode security checks can be done using all ID scanners, including mobile phones. This is the highest level of fake ID detection that can be done on a handheld device without initiating a third party check (such as a call to the DMV database)

Data from the ID can also be parsed into your database, CRM, or POS at this stage.

Low quality fake IDs are often unable to pass barcode security. So this is a great base for age verification and fake detection. When tested against a library of known fakes, more than half failed this stage of verification.

For an additional layer of ID verification, some scanners can compare the data contained in the barcode with the data on the front of the ID, using optical character recognition.

Best-in-class 2D barcode security

black and white barcode security feature on the back on an ID
  • Scans the 2D barcode in 1 second or less
  • Can check against all parseable fields stored inside the 2D barcode
  • Can scan and parse all US and Canadian IDs and driver’s licenses
  • Can scan and parse all passport and passport ID MRZs
  • Performs algorithmic checks against common 2D barcode errors and “tells”
  • Has robust library of algorithmic checks for each jurisdiction that is scanned

What is ID authentication?

Authentication is the most stringent stage of ID verification, which requires specialty hardware. A phone, or low end scanner, will not be equipped with the type of camera or lighting required to truly put an ID through its paces.

At this stage, every aspect of the ID will be examined using powerful cameras. The ID will be checked against hologram and watermark libraries. It will be scanned using white, infrared and UV light. It will also undergo an additional series of algorithmic checks which look for variances in spelling, spacing, and

ID design versus known standards. Six images of the ID are simultaneously compared.

Because of the rigor of authentication, reading and returning results for each ID can take up to 10 seconds. This time is variable depending on the scanner, as well as the processing power of the computer that is being used to run the authentication software.

ID authentication can be performed concurrently with 2D barcode security checks and ID parsing. Authentication provides the highest degree of fake detection and accurately catches up to 95% of suspicious IDs. Even the best fake ID manufacturers have difficulty passing the hundreds of checks that are done in the authentication stage.

Best-in-class ID authentication

Maryland written in green UV ink security feature
  • Minimum 400 DPI image capture for both sides of the ID
  • Simultaneous six image comparison
  • Front / back crossmatching
  • Checks against UV mark screening library
  • Checks against infrared watermark screening library
  • Hologram checks
  • White light scanning
  • Infrared light scanning
  • Additional algorithmic checks on the physical ID
  • Results returned in 15 seconds or less

ID authentication requires specialty scanners. These scanners include embedded cameras, various types of lights, and often motors which can pull the ID in and out of the device. They require connection to a computer which can perform the data processing required to determine the ID’s legitimacy.

Basic ID parsing2D barcode securityID authentication
Parse 2D barcode (PDF417) on IDs & drivers licenses
Date of birth is compared to current date to determine age on ID
ID expiration date is compared to today’s date
75+ algorithmic checks on 2D barcode
Data format checks
Barcode size/dimension checks
Jurisdiction specific barcode checks
Compare 2D barcode data to text on the front of the ID using OCR
Ultraviolet (UV) light scanning
Infrared (IR) light scanning
6-image capture and comparison
Hologram library checks
Watermark library checks
Document template & visual inspection
Catch up to 95% of fake IDs

What is identity verification?

Beyond checking the physical ID, there is an additional layer of verification that can be performed – matching the human holding the ID to the ID itself. This can be performed in a number of ways but commonly involves facial recognition software. It can also be done manually, by visual inspection.

In-person, this can be performed using a web camera, which matches the live photo of the individual’s face to the photo on their ID card. This prevents the use of “false” IDs, which are legitimate IDs being used by someone other than the legal owner (such as a younger brother using his sibling’s ID). The ID will pass all stages of verification and authentication – because it is a real ID – but would fail if you performed face matching to match the face on the ID to the face of the individual presenting the document.

If the ID checking is remote, or mobile, this can be performed using a selfie with the user’s existing mobile device. In this case, anti-spoofing should be layered on top of the facial recognition, to ensure that a photo or video is not being used to trick the software. Results can be returned in less than 3 seconds in most cases.

How to improve identity verification for your business

Implementing identity verification solutions is simple and straightforward. It can help you better understand your customer, catch fake IDs, identify underage consumers, and eliminate manual processes.

Contact our team to see how we can implement affordable solutions to help you authenticate IDs, verify your customers, and stay compliant.