Mobile apps for detecting fraudulent IDs catch less than 35% of fakes

Pile of confiscated fake IDs

After testing five of the best ID scanner apps for age verification, testers at IDScan.net determined that the AppStore’s top 5 apps for fake ID detection don’t actually catch fakes. When testing 100 known fake IDs against 5 applications:

  • 2 of the applications caught zero fake IDs.
  • 1 of the applications caught 16% of the fakes. 
  • 1 of the applications caught 22% of the fakes.
  • The highest performing mobile app caught 77% of fakes, but incorrectly flagged nearly 30% of real IDs as fraudulent.
  • 3 of the mobile apps did not indicate when IDs were expired.
  • These results do not compare favorably to ID scanning solutions that utilize specialty authentication hardware, which caught 98% of known fakes.

Mobile phone hardware does not include the required technology for authenticating IDs. True authentication requires UV, IR, and white light scanning and examination of the document from multiple angles. It also requires matching against hologram and watermark libraries for micro-inconsistencies in the ID format and design. No commercially available phone offers these capabilities. 

But even basic ID validation, which can be done using a phone-camera, is lacking. 2D barcode (PDF417) validation should at minimum check for common inconsistencies in the format of barcode data structure. Several of the applications market themselves as age detection tools, yet are doing no more than basic ID parsing and checking the date of birth field against the current date.

“Not all 2D barcode scanning is created equally. Bars, clubs, and dispensaries who download these apps looking to stay compliant and keep minors out, likely don’t realize that the apps they are relying on to keep them safe are actually not validating IDs at all.”

Andrey Stavnovnov, CTO at IDScan.net

Testing found that these mobile apps found another crucial issue for customers – consistent usage of the applications quickly drained phone batteries. A busy night at a nightclub or dispensary might involve scanning hundreds of IDs over several hours. These applications require the phone to be plugged in to handle that kind of scanning volume. Additionally, because phones lack automatic barcode focusing, security teams will spend longer scanning each idea. In low-light environments this can increase check-in times and cause delay for customers. When batteries fail, and lines slow due to sluggish technology, venues may be forced to return to manual ID verification, which is even more prone to error and fraud.

Cities around the country are working to combat underage drinking and use of fake IDs. 32% of college students admit to having a fake ID, and with students returning to campus use of fakes is on the rise

The ideal solution is ID scanning software and authentication hardware that can perform the following: at least 400dpi image analysis, white light, UV light, and IR light scanning, and checks against a hologram and watermark library. Front and back matching using OCR to compare against the 2D barcode is also recommended. When combined, these solutions can reliably detect nearly 98% of fake IDs and ensure the highest degree of compliance with state and federal age restriction laws. Shop for reputable ID scanners.

About IDScan.net

IDScan.net is the leading AI-powered identity verification platform focusing on age validation and fraud reduction for high compliance industries. We have enhanced digital and physical environments for more than 7,500 customers including IBM, Jack Henry, Shell, AMC Theaters, Trader Joe’s, and Circa Casinos.

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