[P]reviously in the United States, there were any security standards established for driver’s licenses or I.D. cards on the federal level. Instead, these cards were issued by individual states, which created opportunities for identity theft and the creation of fake I.D.s.
The REAL ID Act, was enacted in 2005 and established federal measures for both drivers licenses and I.D. cards from all 50 states, to make it more difficult to manufacture or procure a fake I.D.
Forged and fraudulent I.D. documents are a grave risk to national security. Establishing Real ID guidelines will create a solid defense line for not only those seeking to purchase alcohol underage but also for air transport safety. As part of the Transportation Security Administration, the Real ID was brought about as a direct result of the 9/11 Commission.
How has the Real ID Act curbed fake I.D.s in the U.S.? Let’s take a look at the top ten ways this law is helping to end the phony I.D. industry.
1. The Transportation Security Administration enforced Real ID for all passengers.
The TSA will implement the Real ID for any passenger that passes through a security checkpoint. This policy will take effect in all commercial airports in the U.S. and will take place in a four-phase rollout.
The first three phases are targeted at mostly federal buildings, so they have very few implications for the public. However, the last phase requires anyone boarding a federally regulated aircraft to have a Real ID.
Eliminating domestic terrorism is one of the main selling points of the Real ID Act and will make it nearly impossible for false or fraudulent I.D.s to be used to board an airplane.
Beginning October 1st, 2021, those without a Real ID will not be permitted past a TSA checkpoint. However, those under 18, who are traveling with an adult companion, are not required to present Real ID.
2. It minimizes the need for a passport.
For those who travel domestically, the Real ID can be used in place of a passport anywhere within the contiguous United States. That includes Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Granted, passports are becoming more difficult to forge; however, the use of the Real ID will cut down on lost or stolen passports. The numerous security features on the Real ID discourage would-be forgers from attempting I.D. theft.
3. Real ID Act will deter corrupt employees and provide better training.
Under the Real ID Act, any state official who handles any form of I.D. is required to pass a background check. They will also be required to go through updated training measures to spot forged documents.
It also becomes the state’s responsibility to ensure the security of any location where I.D.s or drivers licenses are produced. The DMV will shift to the use of electronic verification methods of any source documents, and those documents will be shared with other DMVs across the nation.
4. National ID Programs will provide more security.
By 2021, it is estimated that over 3.6 billion people will be using a national eID card. The use of such digital identity frameworks is set to maximize accessibility, privacy, security, fraud prevention, risk management, and usability. Since the Real ID will be checked against a secure database in more places, it is next to impossible to create a forged version that will pass the security measures.
5. The machine-readable information is unique and nearly impossible to duplicate.
In addition to the standard information that is present on a driver’s license, Real I.D.s need to be machine-readable. They will store information that is unique only to that individual.
The chip will store information such as the date of transaction, inventory control number, and a unique driver’s license or I.D. number. These enhanced security features make it nearly impossible to forge or duplicate.
6. The unique look of the cards makes it easier to spot a fake.
One of the most notable changes with the Real ID-compliant cards is the updated look and layout of the card itself. The updated design and enhanced security features make use of visible yet discrete front-facing identifiers.
No need to panic, however. If you have an old I.D., it is valid until the expiration date listed.
7. The materials of the card are easily recognizable and difficult to replicate.
The updated Real ID and Real ID driver’s licenses will be produced with an easily distinguishable polycarbonate material. The material is more tamper-resistant and much more challenging to replicate.
It will also feature a prominent laser engraving as another protection against any forgeries or alterations.
8. Real I.D.s feature the “gold star” approval.
In addition to new materials and laser engravings, the Real ID approved cards will feature a prominent gold star, issued by the state. The gold star will be unique and easy to spot, making it the first indication that your I.D. is Real ID compliant.
9. New Real ID software will prevent identity theft.
A common issue with old I.D. technology is outdated verification software or third party verification software that can be less than secure with the user’s information.
Under the Real ID Act, the state-controlled verification software will not be the responsibility of a third-party vendor and will only be checked against the federal database. This means it is more difficult for criminals to get their hands on personal information that could be used to make a fraudulent I.D.
10. Real I.D.s must pass state-issued verification software.
Even if someone can make a passable copy of the physical I.D. card, there is still the matter of the card verification software. A card scanner will be able to instantly verify whether or not the card is a valid I.D. or a fake.
With the updated Real ID software, it will verify the information that is present on the card against a trusted database. If the encoded information does not match, then the card will not be verified. This eliminates the possibility of producing a card that contains false information.
As long as there is a need for I.D. cards, there will be counterfeit productions. I.D. cards are becoming more sophisticated, but so are the criminals that replicate them.
Implementing Real ID technology will speed up the validation process and make it more secure. Besides, the Real ID’s physical characteristics will make it more challenging to replicate and allow your personal information to remain protected.