Types of Scanning Applications Used to Validate Real Vs Fake IDs

[B]ack in simpler times, all you had to do was present your ID and that would usually be enough. Slowly, things started changing and your ID would need to pass a good ‘ol visual inspection to get the green light. Sadly, if you’re trying to use a fake ID in today’s world, you need to consider much more than that to pass.

These days, there’s technology out there that can spot a fake ID a mile away. You could have a convincing look and feel to your fake ID but still get caught because of some minute details. What used to be the wary eyes of a middle-aged store clerk has been replaced by high-tech scanning equipment.

But that’s not all. To add to the automation of this process, special applications were designed to do the work for you. This makes for a deadly combination that can pinpoint a fake ID with surreal accuracy. There’s more than one type of application in the game. We’ll be looking at some of these types of applications that can be used to validate identity cards.

The Need for ID Validation Applications

One of the first questions that might pop into your mind would be regarding the need for ID validation software. The answer is simple: people can’t be trusted. For as long as systems have existed in the world, there has always been someone who has tried to exploit them for personal gain.

The same reasoning applies to identification. In fact, it may just be one of the oldest and most popular forms of fraudulent behavior in the history of mankind, right up there with pillaging and trickery. You’ll find that history is riddled with cases of forging identity, whether to start a new life or to adopt someone else’s.

It came to a point where you simply couldn’t take someone’s word at face value. Hence, we developed documents and ledgers. But that wasn’t good enough either, so we settled on small bits of plastic. But guess what? Even those could be forged with a little effort.

The big push for reliable ID validation came with legislature such as the KYC (know your customer) and anti-money laundering practices for companies to follow. Suddenly, you couldn’t risk having just a human differentiate between what looks real and what doesn’t. Not when your entire business was at stake. This created the need for reliable ID validation applications to be developed.

Types of ID Validation Applications

When it comes to ID validation applications, there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” app for your needs. Every application out there that works for validating IDs relies on a single method to get the job done. Think of them as one-trick ponies; they can either gallop or dance on two legs, but they probably can’t do both at once. Similarly, the verification applications can execute one method well enough while leaving others open.

Different applications target different methods, so we’re going to look at some of the different ones that are typically used.

1. Scannr

(Source: onepagelove.imgix.net)

One of the most recently popular validation apps is Scannr. It doesn’t use any specialized equipment or major setup to get it running. That’s because this is an app in the truest sense – one that you can download off the app store.

Scannr uses your phone’s camera to scan IDs quickly and efficiently without having to invest heavily in the technology. It may just seem like another one of the dozens of shovel-ware apps out there that promise the same thing, but it’s not.

While other apps promise to be able to scan IDs, they’re not doing any actual “scanning.” All they’re doing is reading the details on the face of your card and cross-referencing them with a database. You’re more or less googling information with a few steps removed.

Scannr, on the other hand, uses a barcode scanner to read the data off the ID. It then cross-references this data with a database to determine legitimacy. It’s far more effective than the other smartphone apps on the market.

However, as far as ID validation goes, it’s a far cry from being perfect. Still, it has its uses here and there

2. PDF417 Barcode Scanner

(Source: jpgrapgh.net)

Have you ever checked the back of your driver’s license to find a garbled mess of pixels that look like TV static? That’s PDF417. It has been one of most popular scannable data formats used for ID cards, inventory tracking, and other official business.

PDF417 was formulated as far back as 1991, courtesy of a Dr. Ynjiun P. Wang. At a glance, you might notice that PDF417 looks like the barcode and QR code had a baby, and you’d be somewhat right.

The way PDF417 works is by having horizontal lines before and after the code to signal the start and end points. The messy stuff in the middle is the actual data that’s going to be scanned.

PDF417 is widely used for all kinds of purposes, be they personal or commercial. You will even find these codes on your postage stickers and airline boarding passes. Now, you might ask why we don’t just use a simple barcode or QR code to do all this.

Without getting too nerdy into it, the reason is actually quite simple. A barcode can only hold a short amount of data enough for listings, URLs, and price tags. Similarly, a typical QR code will only hold up to 400 bytes of data. On the other hand, a full-blown PDF417 can hold 1.1 KB worth of data, which is more than twice of what you get from other types of scannable codes.

3. BCS ID Scanner

(Source: iTunes)

BCS is short for Bar & Club. It’s essentially the Scannr app targeted at small bars, clubs, and business owners. Since these places are bound to get the occasional underaged miscreants, it’s only natural to want to have safety measures in place.

BCS works very similar to most other ID validation apps like Scannr. However, since it is meant to be used for professional businesses, it does seem to be slightly better built.

This app allows you to read your patrons’ IDs using your phone’s camera to scan the code on the back. Additionally, BCS comes with separate attachments for more functionality. The card reader allows you to scan cards that have a magnetic bar stripe on them.

4. AssureID

 (Source: financesonline.com)

One of the more recent entries in the exciting world of card reading technology is AssureID by Acuant. It advertises itself as a one-stop shop for all kinds of ID validation that you could ever want. A jack of all trades, if you will.

With a name like AssureID, you would imagine that you have nothing to worry about. And from the app’s claims, that’s exactly what it aims for. AssureID promises to catch any fake IDs that pass through it by all means.

To start off with, the app can read both simple barcodes and 2D PDF417 codes. It can also read magnetic strips, recognize signatures, analyze UV images, read microprint text, recognize UV holograms, and read the details off the ID.

If that’s not enough for you, the AssureID has an ace up its sleeve. In addition to all its other fancy tricks, the app can also run facial recognition on the picture on the ID. If that doesn’t make it the holy grail of carding minors, nothing will.

Now, admittedly, it’s not as fast or easy to use as the other applications on this list. For one, you have to snap both the front and back pictures of the ID to let it do its thing. The average business owner or bounder probably doesn’t have enough time to spend on snapping two pictures of every ID. However, if anything can give you CSI levels of analysis, this is it.


Whether you’re a bar owner looking to up your carding game or someone who’s looking to scam the system, these ID validation apps can really come in handy and help you know what you’re dealing with.

Whether you are purchasing a fake ID online or getting one domestically; but once you get your hands on one you have to make sure it is scannable. To achieve this, you must use a Scanning application and the four options listed above will help you through the process. You can practically test the Soundex or QR codes of your fake ID on one of these. Hopefully, the information above has given you new insights into how IDs are validated.

Korey Thomas Anderson

Korey Thomas Anderson was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has worked as a Bouncer & has valuable experience in spotting invalid identification cards. His work has been widely appreciated by Bar Owners & currently writes for our Blog.

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