How to spot a fake ID

The rise of apartment fraud has incurred substantial costs on multifamily owners and operators. Most of these fraud cases are related to fake identities, and oftentimes begin with counterfeit IDs (to read more about how fake IDs are used to commit rental fraud, see our previous blog post here). Therefore, an effective way to prevent rental fraud and reduce this expense is by validating prospects’ IDs before every tour.

Your apartment community most likely has an ID policy in place, in which prospects are required to provide a photo ID before every tour. However, the guidance put in place for validating these IDs is lacking.

Below are a few simple steps leasing agents can take to detect counterfeit IDs.

1. Learn the State’s ID Card Features

Each state’s driver licenses and identification cards have a unique set of security features. These include features such as fine lines, holograms, duo color texts, etc.

Most likely, prospects that tour your community are local and have driver licenses / identification cards issued by the same state that your property is in. A simple Google search for your state’s security features will let you know what to look for when taking a prospect’s ID.

Texas’ new form of driver license, for example, contains features such as

  • A duplex and guilloche background with micro printing throughout
  • A color photo with tactile embossed date of birth (DOB)
  • A laser perforated state outline on the right, at the front of the card
  • A DOB printed in duo color
  • A red ID expiration date
  • A star and state logo printed with iridescent ink
  • A star sign showing compliance with real ID act
  • The back of the ID should contain a machine-readable technology magnetic stripe (MRT), a 1D and 2D barcode, and a laser state outline.
Example of the Security Features on a Texas Driver License

Besides the security features stated, it’s also important to note the number of digits of the driver license number. Some states’ licenses have 6 – 7 digits while some, like Texas, have 8.

It’s also good to know the length of validity of the ID. In Texas, the validity of a driver license ranges anywhere from 6-7 years. Therefore, if a questionable ID’s expiration date is longer than expected, prospects should be requested to provide an alternate ID.

2. Ask Questions

Fake IDs are made to contain false information. The owner of the ID may not have all the information memorized. Asking simple questions to confirm the ID’s information will often reveal whether the prospects are who they claim to be. If you suspect that a prospect is using a fake ID, don’t hesitate to ask them questions to confirm the information presented on the card, such as DOB, height, and address. If the prospect hesitates, then an alternate form of ID should be requested.

3. Use an ID Verification Software

Since states’ security features are easily researched, some counterfeit IDs are sophisticatedly made and very difficult to detect with the human eyes. This is where using an ID verification software becomes useful.

Every government-issued ID contains a machine-readable barcode. These barcodes contain encoded information that matches the information visible on the IDs, such as name, age, sex, address, etc.

Most ID scanners are designed to “read” the ID’s barcodes for the information encoded.

A good scanner will spot most low-quality fake IDs by detecting whether there is information encoded in the barcodes. Since low-quality fake IDs usually don’t have the encoded information, they would fail to validate.

However, sophisticated fake IDs do contain encoded information. This means scanners that simply detect the existence of encoded information will give these IDs false validation. A good quality ID verification software not only looks for the encoded information but also verifies it against a trusted database to validate the IDs.


ID policy may have been around in multifamily for quite a while, but the need to verify the authenticity of  IDs before tours is becoming increasingly relevant given the rise in rental fraud.

Since fraud cases in multifamily often begin with fake IDs, knowing the IDs’ security features and checking prospects’ IDs for these features is the first step leasing agents can take to prevent rental fraud.

Many counterfeit IDs are sophisticatedly made and are very difficult to detect without the help of technologies. Implementing an ID verification software at your community will allow leasing agents to accurately spot these IDs while also speeding up the ID validation process.

When deciding on an ID verification technology, it’s important to understand how the verification process works for each software. Good fake IDs can be falsely validated by some ID scanners, depending on the scanning technology being used. Highly sophisticated ID verification software, such as CheckpointID, compares the encoded information against a trusted database to ensure that the ID is actually valid, therefore providing higher accuracy when detecting fake IDs.