Can Fake IDs Pass ID Scanners?

ID scanning technology has multiple applications in many sectors, including banking, retail, health, and education. This technology helps businesses and other players collect and verify user data, among other benefits.

Interestingly, fake ID vendors market their counterfeit identification documents as “scannable.” Whether this is true or false, answering this requires that you have a deep understanding of the technologies used by an ID scanner and tools used by forgers to maneuver these tests. 

How Do ID Scanners Work?

At the core, ID scanners are primarily barcode readers. Nearly all ID scanners verify IDs and driver’s licenses by reading information encrypted in the barcode or magnetic strip and detecting the accuracy of the information to determine whether the ID is real or fake. The scanner parses information gathered from the barcode. Parsing goes beyond extracting the information from barcodes.

Once the ID has been scanned, the software compares ID fields to field formats from different states backed by a comprehensive ID library. Unfortunately, the verification features are used primarily to allow scanners to extract information from IDs quickly but don’t include strong security measures.

Fabricating magnetic strips and barcodes with encoded identification information can be done simply using various technologies and encoding systems readily available online. Malicious parties use these technologies to create fake passports and IDs.

While simple ID scanners can catch fake IDs, forgers can easily create counterfeit IDs using faulty barcodes and magnetic strips. As a result, counterfeit identification documents sold online can return valid when passed through ID scanners.

Most ID scanners rely on these basic verification tests, and fake IDs often pass as real documents when scanned. To catch fake IDs, businesses and organizations should integrate technologies that can detect even the slightest discrepancy in sophisticated security features of government-issued documents.

Only a few ID scanners can detect fake IDs by comparing fonts, imagery, and spacing of the scanned ID with real ID templates. This analysis is called pattern matching.

How Can ID Scanners Accurately Detect Fake IDs?

Manufacturers and issuers of government identity documents use a combination of intricate designs and fonts as security features, which make them difficult to duplicate. The unique typefaces, fine lines, complex imagery, and micro text on official IDs can only be reproduced using security-held technology.

A trained eye can easily spot poorly faked security features. However, advanced counterfeits easily pass human verification, meaning that using ID scanners is the only option of catching them. Effective scanners use pattern-matching technology to analyze IDs in granularity, to a point where only a few pixels show signs of being fake.

Apart from pattern matching technology, ID scanners should validate hologram and fluorescent overlays, which are the additional security layer used in official documents. 


The access to near-perfect but fake identity documents from the dark web has increased, with counterfeit documents contributing to major identity theft cases. While ID scanners are designed to verify user identity, fake IDs might pass ID scanners if the scanning engine isn’t strong.

A scanning engine typically describes the software that verifies information collected by the scanner to validate the document. Reliable scanning engines should be thoroughly built, constantly updated, and use millions of algorithms to detect fake IDs accurately.

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