Fake IDs so Real, They're Frightening

A doorman closely inspects an ID.

Is your bar, lounge or nightclub open? If you answered yes, there are fake IDs being used inside of it right now. If you answered no, when your doors open there will be fake IDs passing through them. If that reality has made you uneasy, this should make you downright concerned (and angry): today’s fakes are high tech and high quality. They’re better than any fakes you’ve seen in the past, and law enforcement has very little training on them. The most dangerous of these new and highly effective fakes are referred to as “China fakes.” Robert Smith of Nightclub Security Consultants took on this startling subject at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show.

But why should you care? First, you should care because do so will protect yourself, your staff, your venue and the community. If a minor is caught in your bar or club, it’s your job to prove your employee did everything possible to stop that underage person. The simple fact is that you’re always liable. Second, catching these fakes helps to stop underage alcohol consumption and sends a strong to message to anyone else considering trying to get them past your staff. Third, becoming good at catching these fake IDs can help to build staff confidence and actually allow you to help you train your local authorities to spot them. Finally, Robert says that spotting these fake IDs can stop terrorism. Unfortunately, one tactic used by terrorists is practicing to “blend in.” Visiting bars, lounges and nightclubs is part of this blending in, and domestic and international terrorists are using these high quality fake IDs.

Since this topic is mired in legalities, Robert addressed the law early on during his presentation. First, as you’re likely already aware, legal Internet driver’s licenses or ID cards do not exist. The issuance of a driver’s license or ID is a privilege and not a right, and that privilege is bestowed upon on a person by a state. The state of issue owns the IDs and they can suspend or revoke them at any time. As far as your right to confiscate a fake ID being used at your venue, check your state laws. Robert’s view on confiscation is that since a fake ID is, well, fake, it’s not a state-issued document and can therefore be taken by your and your staff. Attorneys will, generally speaking, warn against confiscating any IDs because they believe it opens an operator up to liability issues. Robert disagrees.

If you hope to catch these fake IDs and keep them – and their holders – out of your venue, you’re going to need your staff to be vigilant. Of course, that vigilance must be supported by training. Tell your staff what you expect from them in terms of spotting and dealing with fakes. It’s also imperative that you tell them why stopping these IDs is so important. It’s your responsibility to increase awareness and discoverability of these incredible fake IDs. Robert suggests that operators implement an incentive program for the discovery of fakes, such as the following:

  • Bounty: $10 to $25 dollars for each fake ID.
  • In-house gift card: $20 to $50 dollar in-house gift card.
  • Neighboring business gift card: $20 to $50 dollar local business gift card.

You can also leverage local law enforcement assistance to help stop the infiltration of these fake IDs, requesting monthly undercover operations that result in citations and arrests.

So, you’ve chosen to take this threat to your venue seriously. You’ve communicated the importance of catching these fakes to your staff and you’ve provided training. What happens when your vigilant staff has discovered a fake? One effective tactic is to quiz the person trying to use a fake at your venue with the following questions:

  • What is your birthday?
  • How old are you?
  • Where did you go to high school?
  • What year did you graduate high school?
  • What is your zodiac sign?
  • Do you have a second form of ID?

It isn’t necessary for the screener using these questions to know all of the answers. Rather, the aim is to ask these questions while observing the person who is answering them to detect lies and difficulty in providing answers. Robert says your staff needs to be secure in what has been found: they shouldn’t be shocked, they shouldn’t be talked out of what they know they’ve found, and they should know what to do next because they’re clear on your policy.

To provide some guidance, detaining or arresting a person who has presented a fake ID in an attempt to gain access to your bar, lounge or nightclub is not a common practice as it’s a misdemeanor. Now, you can choose to either confiscate the ID or return it to the bearer (along with refusing them entry). Robert strongly suggests confiscating these IDs as it prevents it from being used again and sends the message that you don’t promote the use of fakes. The incident and ID should be documented, retained for training purposes, and then turned over to local law enforcement.

High quality fake IDs are a threat to multiple industries, not just ours. They’re only going to get better, so it’s critical that you and your staff stay informed and vigilant – they can be found and confiscated. Train your team, help them practice the detection of fake IDs, and provide positive feedback whenever a fake is discovered by your staff.

For further insights into the world of fake IDs, please visit the Nightclub Security Consultants website and contact their experts.

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