Your Cookies are Disabled! sets cookies on your computer to help improve performance and provide a more engaging user experience. By using this site, you accept the terms of our cookie policy. Learn more.

Notary Challenge: ‘Spot The Imposters’ In National ID Matching Study

Note: View the infographic below for pointers, and then launch the study survey to participate.

The NNA has teamed up with psychology researchers at Louisiana State University in an effort to better understand the difficulties people face when matching faces to photos and other data on identification documents. Verifying the identity of signers is one of the essential duties of every Notary, but in today’s multi-cultural world that often is easier said than done.

Megan Papesh, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Louisiana State University, is asking Notaries across the nation to participate in her face-matching research survey. To participate, view the infographic below for pointers, and then launch the study’s Notary survey. It will take about 15 minutes, and at the end you’ll see how well you did matching the faces with the IDs.

Part of the difficulty people have in face matching stems from the fact that ID photos easily can be more than a decade old, and people’s appearance often changes substantially in that time. Variations in weight and hair color can make it hard to match an ID to the person. Even something as simple as a tan can add to your challenge.

In addition, people generally are better at recognizing faces from their own cultures and ethnic groups than they are from others, according to Papesh.

Tips For Identifying Signers

Papesh recommends comparing internal features on a person’s face, such as:

  • The shape of the eyes or cheeks
  • The nose line
  • The chin size
  • The nose-mouth-chin distance

“What works when checking some individuals will not work for others,” Papesh said. “It’s a good idea to always check a few features without getting tripped up by hair, weight and skin shade.”

Papesh gave a presentation on face-matching techniques at NNA 2015 Conference. If you would like to be a presenter at NNA 2016 in Anaheim, California, please submit an application.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Take a face-matching survey to help researchers better understand the difficulties Notaries face when matching faces to photos.


Additional Resources:

Webinar: ID Fraud — A Notary Trap

Fraud Fighter™ UV Penlight

2015 ID Checking Guide: US & Canada

ID Checking Guide: International Edition

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

Marian P Marcus

31 Aug 2015

Thank you

Nancy Rizzuto

31 Aug 2015

The teeth do not match. The smile is not the same: broader smile and thinner lips.


31 Aug 2015

Took the Notary Study Survey and got 29/30. Some of them were tricky! It really does go to show that not everyone is an easy ID match.

Jennifer G

31 Aug 2015

Took the test - did not fair well...I feel I would've done better had I been able to zoom in on the ID.


31 Aug 2015

The girl without the glasses, her eyes are set much closer together.


01 Sep 2015

I had a hard time seeing the differences in the small photos, but I noticed that the hair parts on the same side of the girl in glasses as the one in the ID, so I chose her.


02 Sep 2015

I noticed that most faces were young. What about middle-aged or elderly faces?


07 Sep 2015

I think I fared pretty good. I also would have like to be able to zoom in on the licenses to get a closer or larger view.


08 Sep 2015

I, too, would appreciate seeing some middle-aged or elderly faces to i.d.

Paula loo

09 Sep 2015

I noticed that my aging progress has changed considerable. My eyes looks smaller.


10 Sep 2015

One the test it would be better if you could bring the license picture closer to view as if you were holding the license.

Susie Jackson

02 Nov 2015

I didn't think the driver's licenses were clear enough to really make a good comparison.

Leave a Comment

Required *

All comments are reviewed and if approved, will display.