spotting fake ids

We explain what the technology is doing in the background when you scan an ID. Simply put, we know ID scanning. We have been at it since 2003, and we were the first ones to bring mobile ID scanning on iOS devices to the market. You’ll often hear us talking about what ID scanning can do for you: catch fake IDs, prevent fraud, increase security, and simply make life easier in any number of ways. But what actually happens when you scan an ID? A good question.

We pair our software with the best mobile and desktop hardware—ID scanners for short. You may already know this, but all of the information seen on the front of a state-issued ID or driver’s license is contained in a 2D barcode on the back. When an ID scanner reads this barcode, it extracts all the information printed on its frontside.

What exactly do ID scanners detect, and how do they do it?

An ID scanner, at its core, is a barcode scanner. Most mobile scanners come with a default barcode reader app. When used with this built-in software, as opposed to our specialized software, the scanner will extract the raw barcode information and show the data on it’s screen. Desktop scanners cannot be used without some kind of software.

When used with software, ID scanners become powerful tools that detect with complete accuracy whether an ID is real or fake.’s software, for example, parses the information in the barcode. Parsing goes a few steps further than simply extracting data from the barcode. After an ID is scanned,’s software compares the ID’s fields to the field format for all IDs from that state. uses a comprehensive library of IDs and a powerful algorithm that adds ID format changes when created, updated, or recognized.

For example, if the fields [First Name], [Middle Name], and [Last Name] are three separate fields with a unique format on the Louisiana ID, and a “Louisiana ID” is scanned with a middle initial followed by a period, then the ID is recognized as fake.

How do ID scanners catch fake IDs?

In addition to ID parsing, software runs calculations to determine age and expiration authenticity.

One scan will capture the date of birth and expiration date on the ID. Then the software will calculate from the scan date whether the ID is expired (if the expiration date is in the past), or if the ID holder is at least a certain age (18 or 21, for example).

When paired with auto-capture software, WizzForms, selected ID fields and information may be automatically parsed and uploaded into existing POS or interfaces. This software reduces human error and saves time uploading customer information into business systems.

What type of documents can ID scanners read?

ID scanners range from desktop to mobile devices to using a scanning app on a smartphone. They can be cloud / wifi based or standalone, depending on business needs.

It is important to note the exact type of documents that specific scanners can read, as scanners can vary from accepting almost universal documents including state IDs, driver’s licenses, passports, international IDs, and green cards, to only accepting singular document types such as membership cards.

It is also important to note the type of barcode on the document that requires scanning. Common barcodes types include:

  • 1D: Commonly referred to as linear barcodes and used across enterprise operations
  • 2D (includes PDF417 and QR Code): Represent more data per unit area than 1D barcodes
    • PDF417 barcodes appear on paper boarding passes and state-issued identification cards
  • Magnetic Stripe: Displayed as a solid line rather than a series of parallel lines. Stores a limited amount of information such as an account number, student ID number
    • Magnetic stripes commonly appear on gift cards, student ID cards, and loyalty/membership cards

What Information Comes Up When A Fake ID is Scanned?

Information stored on the 2D barcode is readable using commonly available 2D barcode scanners. If the fake ID scans, which most modern, sophisticated fakes do, the following information will be available, and may be displayed when the fake ID is scanned:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Date of Birth (most ID scanning software will use this to calculate your age)
  • Address, City, State, Zip
  • Type of License
  • Expiration Date of the Document

Whether that information is stored depends on the ID scanning software that is being used. Some software will also include optional challenge questions like “What is your zodiac sign?” based on the information stored in the barcode.’s software pairs on any type of scanner suited to a business’s needs. To browse the different types of scanners available on the market, view mobile hardware and desktop hardware. To speak with an ID scan team member to discuss the most effective scanner for your specific environment, email or call 888-430-8936.