Alcohol Server’s Guide to Identifying Fake IDs and Preventing Underage Drinking

As an alcohol server, part of your responsibility is ensuring that your guests are of legal drinking age and that underage individuals are not served alcoholic beverages. This obligation requires proficiency in identifying and handling fake IDs, a skill critical to both the safety of your patrons and the compliance of your establishment with state and federal laws. In this blog post, we will discuss essential techniques for spotting fake IDs and preventing underage drinking, focusing on the importance of training, attention to detail, and adherence to responsible alcohol service standards.

The consequences of serving alcohol to a minor can be far-reaching and severe, including fines, license suspensions, and potential legal ramifications for both servers and establishments. Additionally, underage drinking carries significant public health and safety concerns, such as increased rates of alcohol-related accidents and long-term health consequences. Therefore, it is imperative that alcohol servers develop and maintain expertise in detecting fake IDs to protect their guests, their establishments, and themselves from potential harm.

In the following sections, we will examine critical aspects of identifying fake IDs, including the features of authentic identification documents, common forgery tactics, and best practices for handling suspected fakes. We will also explore the importance of continuous training and education in keeping up with the latest developments in ID security and forgery prevention. By honing these skills and adhering to responsible alcohol service standards, you can contribute to a safe and enjoyable environment for your customers while upholding the highest professional standards of your position as an alcohol server.

Understanding the Features of Authentic Identification Documents

Familiarity with the security features of authentic identification documents is key to successfully identifying fake IDs. Study the following elements to build a solid foundation for recognizing genuine IDs:

1. State-specific Design Elements: Each state has distinctive design elements on their ID cards, such as unique backgrounds, seals, or insignia. Familiarize yourself with these elements for the states in which you commonly encounter IDs.

2. Holograms: Many IDs feature holograms, which can be difficult for forgers to replicate accurately. Inspect holograms for image clarity and quality.

3. Microprint: Some IDs contain microprint, which consists of very small text or images that are difficult to duplicate without specialized equipment. Use a magnifying glass to examine microprint for authenticity.

4. Ultraviolet (UV) Features: Certain IDs have hidden UV features that are only visible under a UV light. Invest in a UV light to verify these features on IDs you encounter.

Detecting Common Forgery Tactics

Forgeries often display specific signs and tactics that can help you identify fake IDs. Look out for these red flags during ID checks:

1. Subpar Printing: Check for blurred text or images, irregular font sizes, or inconsistent alignment on the ID, which may indicate a forgery.

2. Erroneous Information: Verify that the personal information on the card is consistent and accurate. For instance, check the individual’s height, weight, eye, and hair color against their appearance.

3. Tampering: Look for signs of tampering, such as peeling or bubbling laminates, or uneven surfaces – these could indicate a counterfeit ID.

4. Incorrect Date Formatting: Be vigilant for incorrect date formats or inconsistencies between the date format and the issuing state’s standard format.

Best Practices for Handling Suspected Fake IDs

When you suspect an ID may be fake, it’s essential to handle the situation professionally and responsibly. Follow these guidelines when dealing with potential fake IDs:

1. Remain Polite and Professional: Treat the individual respectfully as you examine their ID, avoiding accusations or confrontation.

2. Ask Questions: If you have doubts about the ID’s authenticity, ask the individual questions about the information on the card, such as their address, birthdate, or zodiac sign. Look for inconsistencies between their answers and the card’s details.

3. Consult a Reference Guide: Carry a reference guide, such as the I.D. Checking Guide, to help verify state-specific ID features and confirm your suspicions about a potential fake.

4. Involve Management: Inform your manager or supervisor if you believe an ID is fake, allowing them to make the final determination and handle any necessary actions, such as contacting law enforcement or confiscating the ID.

Ongoing Training and Education to Keep Up with ID Security Developments

Continuing education and training are crucial for staying current with ID security features and forgery prevention methods:

1. Attend Industry Trainings: Participate in regular training sessions, workshops, or seminars that focus on ID verification and fake ID detection.

2. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with news and developments in ID security technologies, serving policies, and laws in your state.

3. Use Available Online Resources: Utilize online resources, forums, and networks to exchange information and best practices with fellow alcohol servers and industry professionals.


Safeguarding your establishment and guests by identifying fake IDs and preventing underage drinking is a crucial responsibility for alcohol servers. By developing a comprehensive understanding of ID security features, detecting forgery tactics, and employing best practices for handling suspected fake IDs, you can maintain a safe and compliant environment in your workplace. Committed to ongoing training and education, you can stay ahead of the latest trends in ID security and ensure you are prepared to fulfill your duties as a responsible alcohol server.

Looking to reduce alcohol-related risks in your workplace while also earning the required certification for your state? Look no further than ABC Server Training! Our comprehensive alcohol service training program is designed to educate servers with the latest information and techniques to keep your establishment safe and compliant. Don’t wait – contact ABC Server Training today to learn more about how we can help you and your team.