Identity documents are an important part of everyday life both in the professional world and in the casual. They are integral to our day-to-day life and enable us to function and participate in various activities, jobs, and purchases. Therefore, it is paramount that these documents are not only genuine but verifiable and easy to authenticate. 

However, this is not always the case and as criminal networks become more sophisticated in their ability to create fake IDs, there is an increased risk that fraudulent IDs may slip through the cracks. This is especially crucial for businesses and organizations during the customer/employee onboarding process and the document verification process. This risk is tremendous as companies are projected to lose $5 billion by 2024 to identity fraud. In this blog, we will explain how to spot a fake ID and how technologies can help in these processes.

Types of false IDs

There are many ID documents that criminal networks and fraudsters create, including passports and ID cards. To help you spot a fake ID, we first break it down into 4 groups: 

  • Unaltered and borrowed ID – this is a genuine document that is being used by someone else. For example, borrowing and using a friend’s ID to make a purchase because you are not of age but they are.
  • Manipulated ID – this is a genuine document that has been altered in some way. For example, a document on which the date of birth (DOB) has been changed.
  • A replica – this is a fake ID replicating a genuine ID. For example, a driver’s license not issued by a legitimate governing body. 
  • Manufactured ID – this is a fake document that does not exist and is created through fraudulent means.

We will go into further detail on the difference between a manufactured and manipulated ID later below.

How are fake IDs made?

Although it is illegal to possess, produce or distribute a false ID that can be mistaken for an official government-issued document, they persist and are a lucrative source of income for criminal enterprises around the world. There are 2 main ways fraudulent identity documents are made, manufactured and manipulated. For the most part, the 4 types of fake IDs explored earlier fall into these 2 groups. 

Manufactured ID

A manufactured ID is an entirely fraudulent document. Sometimes, these combine valid id information to create a fake document. For example, these can include the DOB of one person, the address of a second, and the social security number of a third person. This is still a fake document but it combines real, genuine information with false, fraudulent information. 

Manipulated ID

In contrast, a manipulated ID is an identity document that as the name suggests has been manipulated, changed, or altered. In this case, this involves changing the things like the DOB or the photographer click a photo on an identity document often with digital programs like Photoshop.

Identity fraud, sometimes referred to as synthetic identity fraud, is a growing problem for organizations and businesses around the world and it is imperative that they are equipped with the skill, knowledge, and technology to ease the process of spotting a fake ID.

3 ways to spot fake IDs

There are some telltale signs to look out for when trying to determine when checking for a fake ID. Some of these are easier to spot than others, depending on how sophisticated the fake ID is. Some of these telltale signs are easier to spot with the naked eye while others need technology. Let’s have a look:  

  1. Missing security features: most genuine ID documents have security features that are difficult to replicate, such as holograms, kinegrams, watermarks, barcodes, UV light images, and raised lettering. If you find these absent from an ID document, then it should be an indicator that this is not a genuine document. 
  2. Incorrect information: the incorrect information on an identity document often makes spotting a fake id easier. A fake ID may have incorrect information, such as the wrong address, DOB and even spelling errors in the name. In addition, inconsistent layouts can be a good indicator that you are looking at a fake ID.  Using multiple identity documents for cross-verification can be a good way around this. 
  3. Physical features: the most obvious telltale signs you are dealing with a fake ID are the physical features. Genuine identity documents are generally made of sturdy materials which makes them stand out from their fraudulent counterparts. When looking out for a fake ID, keep an eye out for the font and size and especially for the consistency throughout the document. In addition, the print quality can be a dead giveaway, a fake ID may have uneven edges and blurred text and even images. When examining a physical ID these are some signs to look out for. 

Some of these signs are easier to spot with the naked eye, however as criminal networks become more and more sophisticated in their creation of fraudulent documents, this is becoming more difficult and close to impossible to do only relying on the human eye. Therefore, it is increasingly important for organizations to adopt ID verification software in their onboarding processes. In the following section, we will explore some ways that identity verification software can aid in these processes.

Recognizing fake IDs with document verification technologies

Although the authentication of identity documents can be done manually, this is subject to errors and mistakes. There are document verification technologies that can make the process of spotting fake IDs easier. Such technologies are OCR, NFC, AI, and MRZ scanners. Let’s take a look at how each of them can help spot fake IDs. check here best website for fake ids


OCR technology (Optical Character Recognition) enables document verification software to extract important pieces of information from ID documents such as a name, DOB, document number, signature, and expiry date. Thanks to OCR, the extracted data can be easily cross-checked with internal or external databases to ensure that the information exists, is valid, or the individuals are who they claim to be. 

For example, during the onboarding processes, OCR comes in handy to extract important pieces of information from identity documents, streamlining the document verification process and saving time.


NFC (Near Field Communication) is a technology that allows devices like phones and smartwatches to exchange small bits of data with other devices and read NFC-equipped cards over relatively short distances. This technology can be used to read encrypted data in the chip of identity documents like passports to authenticate it, preventing identity fraud. NFC ID verification technology, you can bring ID verification to your fingertips, making this a fast and efficient process. 


MRZ (Machine-Readable Zone) is a specific section found in identity documents, particularly passports, which contains the personal data of the document holder in a format that can be easily read by machines. With MRZ scanners, businesses are able to scan, extract and analyze personally identifiable information, which cannot easily be faked.

AI Algorithms

AI algorithms can analyze the EXIF data (Exchangeable Image File Format) to determine if an image has been altered, when, and by which software for example. EXIF data refers to the metadata embedded in digital images taken by cameras and smartphones. The AI can assess the metadata to detect if an image has been edited. For example, if an image has been altered using editing software like Photoshop, the AI algorithm can scan the EXIF data and detect this which can in turn be flagged in the ID verification process. 

As more companies begin to lean into digital onboarding processes, there is an increasing shift towards a software-focused approach to spotting a fake ID as it is becoming increasingly difficult to spot them with the human eye. An example of such software is Klippa DocHorizon, which we will explain in greater detail in the following section.