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How to spot a phony ID (before you serve a minor)

Protecting your liquor license is important to you — but fake IDs are a major problem. There are some high-quality fakes out there, so how can you be held responsible for catching them all?

Well, you generally can’t. More than likely, one or two bad IDs will eventually slip past you. This does not mean, however, that you’re relieved of all responsibility for weeding out underage drinkers and turning them away.

What are the three types of phony IDs you’re going to see?

Knowing what to expect can help you spot a phony ID right away. Typically, would-be patrons who are underage will present one of the following:

  • A borrowed ID: These are real, but they don’t belong to your customer. Most likely, the underage party lifted an ID belonging to an older friend or relative — and the ID may or may not be expired. Your best defense against these kinds of IDs involves checking the expiration date and comparing the photograph of the person on the ID to the person in front of you.
  • A fake ID: There are plenty of poor-quality fakes out there, and they can usually be spotted simply by looking for blurred images, missing security features that should be present or a card that simply “feels” wrong in your hand because it is made from the wrong materials. The backs of these IDs, in particular, are often the most poorly done.
  • An altered ID: It’s very difficult to alter a real ID these days — but people still try. Look for peeled edges on the card, shiny spots or raised areas around the date of birth or a picture that seems like it isn’t quite lined up on the card.

One of the fastest ways to put your liquor license in danger is to get a reputation for being “easy” on minors with fake IDs. Your lack of due diligence can lead to a sting operation by undercover authorities and put you out of business.

The more you learn about how to protect your business, the easier it is to avoid major legal problems with your liquor license — and that’s really the best defense of all.

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