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A Notary’s Guide To Spotting Fake IDs

Verifying the identity of signers can be challenging considering how many types of ID are in circulation — and how good many of the fakes are.

In an effort to cut down on ID fraud, most states have significantly improved the security features of thedriver’s licenses and identity cards they issue. This infographic from the publishers of the I.D. Checking Guide depicts some of the more common security features that can help Notaries verify the identity of their signers.

1. The signer’s physical description on the ID doesn’t match the signer.

Always be sure to compare the physical description of the signer on the ID to the person in front of you. If the signer is 6’2” but his driver’s license lists him as 5’0”, or a twentysomething signer presents you with a license that said she was born in 1963, then something’s definitely amiss.

2. Misspellings on the ID.

Spelling errors on an ID card — such as the state name or other information being misspelled on a driver’s license — are a warning sign that the ID is a counterfeit and wasn’t produced by a legitimate agency.

3. Look for signs the ID has been tampered with.

If the signer’s photo on the ID seems unusually thick or stands out from the ID, it’s possible a second photo has been pasted or glued on top of the original. Other signs that an ID may have been tampered with are peeling or damaged laminate on the card, or blurry or smeared text.

4. Check for state-specific watermarks and security features.

State-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards often include security features and special images as protection against tampering. The I.D. Checking Guide provides a state-by-state breakdown of IDs and their key safety features that can help Notaries distinguish genuine IDs from fakes.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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