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Notary Tip: Top 5 security features on IDs

The essential task of every Notary is to verify the identity of their signers. Every day, signers present their driver's licenses or ID cards, and they have a multitude of looks. With so many sophisticated fake and altered ID cards on the market, how can you be certain that an individual’s ID is valid? Checking the ID’s security features is key.

Document fraud expert Joseph Vasil recommends checking these five common security features on an ID:

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1. Hologram

Most states issue driver’s licenses that contain a hologram. To view a hologram, simply hold the ID against a light source and tilt it back and forth. On government-issued IDs the holograms usually depict state seals, state flags, or historical references to that jurisdiction. Generic holograms, such as lock-and-key icons, or words like “authentic” or “secure” are seldom used on government-issued IDs.

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2. UV image

Commonly called a blacklight image, a UV image appears when UV light is shined on an ID. The image can depict anything from a photo of the cardholder to the name of the issuing state. UV images may appear on the front or back of a card.

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3. Microprinting

This is very small print (text) that you need a magnifier to see. It is sometimes disguised in the background pattern of an ID. (This is the best and quickest way to detect counterfeits.)

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4. Laser perforation

Small holes are made in the ID card during production. When the card is viewed against a direct light source, a distinct shape or image appears. These images are usually representative of the issuing jurisdiction.

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5. Tactile feature

Raised (tactile) print on an ID may represent an ID number, DOB, or issue and expiration date. You can detect a tactile feature by running your fingers over the surface of the card.

Not every state incorporates all of these security features in their driving and ID credentials. As noted above, the images coded into an ID document are usually unique to the state that issues it. It’s a good idea to stay up to date on the security features included in IDs issued by your state. For other states, having a reliable ID reference guide is essential for comparing a live ID to the credentials issued in that state.

Kristin Stanberry is an editor and ID document acquisition expert for Keesing Technologies, global leader in ID document verification. She gathers her knowledge from multiple sources throughout North America, including personal contacts with leading experts and government agencies.

Note: Images courtesy of Keesing Technologies reference database.

Related Articles:

The 3 ways Notaries can properly identify signers

Additional Resources:

Determine If ID Is Acceptable for Notarization

Fraud Fighter™ UV Penlight

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

Ralph Davis

01 Oct 2018

As a licensed California Notary Public I find this information very valuable. Thanks for the information.

Wanda Faye

19 Nov 2018

This is very helpful information. Thank you!


04 Feb 2022

Why are the identifiers on the drivers licenses?

Henry A Young Jr

09 Jan 2024

The fraud fighter pen light is a super tool to have and use it daily. Clients comment how impressed they are to see it in use.

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