How to Spot a Fake New York ID

By Maria Woehr
Raised edges around the photo indicate that it may not be the original.
Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Students purchase or create fake IDs (driver's licenses) so they can buy alcohol and cigarettes or get into clubs. Using a fake ID is illegal. Anyone who misrepresents his identity or tampers with his identification card can be prosecuted for forgery or impersonation, which could lead to a $500 fine and a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. If you need to identify whether or not an ID is fake, it may take some time but it can be done.

Hold the ID. Compare the photograph to the person showing you the ID. It will document his eye color, height and date of birth to the right of the photo (which is at the far left of the card). Make sure his eye color, height and age match. If the photo itself shows inconsistencies, such as in hair length/color or in weight, ask how long ago it was taken.

Check the card's magnetic strip, which is on the top of the back of the ID. Run it through an ID machine, if you have one; see if it works and whether the information matches up. Look for raised edges around the photograph, bubbles on the cover or peeling around the edges, all of which could indicate a fake. Scratch the hologram on the front of the ID to make sure it doesn't flake. Make certain that everything on the license is spelled correctly. Inspect the ID's background and borders for fuzziness. (Also check the expiration date; it it's expired, it's no longer a legal form of ID.)

Ask questions, in a friendly manner, of the person who's given you the ID. If you seem friendly, she's more likely to slip up. Look at the birth date on the ID and ask her what sign she is. Ask for her address; she should know it by heart. If a middle initial is on the ID, ask her what it stands for. If she's with a friend, ask the friend to tell you her name.

Ask for a second form of ID. Most people carry more than one form, including credit cards or student IDs. Each of these cards should have the same name on it; some may have photos you can use for comparison. If he takes out his wallet, keep an eye on it to make sure there are no other IDs in there, indicating that the one in your hand may be a fake. If he doesn't have another form of ID, ask him for his signature, which you can then compare to the one on the ID (located beneath the photo).

About the Author

Maria Woehr is a journalist with over 10 years of professional writing experience. She started editing in 2006 and has been published in "The Westfield Leader Times," "Insurance & Technology Magazine," "InformationWeek," "Positive Thinking Magazine," "Go Magazine," "The Deal," "The Financial Times" and many other outlets. She is a graduate of Boston University and has a master's degree from Drew University.