Fake IDs Are Going High-Tech. Do You Know How to Spot Them?

Fake IDsMany college and high school students used to turn to peers with photo software and laminating machines to produce fake ID’s. Hospitality professionals and police officers alike are trained on how to spot these, but recently more sophisticated and convincing fake IDs have begun appearing on the market. Alarmingly, a new breed of fake identification, complete with holographs and barcodes, is popping up in more and more states, and it can be almost impossible to tell them apart from the real thing. For a few hundred dollars, enterprising teenagers and young adults are able to secure very realistic fake driver’s licenses and are finding it easier than ever to enter bars and clubs and purchase liquor. Are you aware of these new high-tech fake IDs, and are you making sure you aren’t getting duped?

Reporter Ashley Halsey of the Washington Post recently reported on this new wave of identification being produced in China in her article, “New Generation of Fake IDs Flinging Open Doors to Underage Drinking.” These fake IDs are being produced using real photos, signatures and identifying information specific to the purchaser, and even police officials and experienced bartenders are having a difficult time telling these apart from real IDs. So what can you do to make sure you’re looking at a legit driver’s license?

If your establishment uses a bar code reader to check identification, you may be in luck. The type of ID reported about in the article cited here has identifiers which are being flagged as bogus by card readers. Specifically, you can look for the words, “by PARTiTek” on the readout. Additionally, make sure you are up-to-date on your TAM® training, and remaining vigilant about traditional ways to spot bogus identification.

Still want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help prevent underage drinking? Check out our blog posts, “Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?” and “ID Scanners – Friend or Foe?”

TAM® Card Holders, what are some tricks that you’ve seen used by fake ID holders? What would have been helpful to know when you first started checking IDs?


New Generation of Fake IDs Flinging Open Doors to Underage Drinking – Washington Post

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada



Are Your Safe Beverage Service Policies Working? If Not, It Could Cost You

A recent news story regarding the accidental service of an alcoholic beverage to a minor is making waves, and it serves to remind us exactly why alcohol awareness education is so important. A toddler was recently served an alcohol-infused margarita mix in place of apple juice at an Applebee’s restaurant in Michigan, possibly the result of a mislabeled bottle at the bar. You can read the full story on The Detroit News’ website here.

New procedures have been put in place by the company to prevent this type of mistake from happening again, but the damage has already been done. The parents are suing, and there is a monstrous wave of bad publicity for the Applebee’s franchise. Luckily, the child who consumed the beverage and began behaving strangely is OK, but he did register a .10 BAC, more than the legal limit of intoxication for an adult driver. Worth noting and also alarming is that this is the fourth such related incident reported since 2006 for Applebee’s. This is why staff training and alcohol awareness education is so important. There are legal, ethical and moral obligations to keep patrons, of all ages, safe.

Policy changes put into place by Applebee’s include only using apple juice from single-serve containers and retraining staff on beverage pouring policies and procedures. You can read Applebee’s response regarding the event and more about their new procedures here.

As a reminder to all hospitality workers, there are a few common-sense solutions that everyone can use to make sure that patrons are receiving what they ordered, and are being served safely and responsibly.

  1. Store alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages separately, and make sure containers are labeled properly so that bartenders and servers are aware of the contents. A pitcher may look like it contains juice or something else recognizable, but if you aren’t 100% sure of the contents, do not serve it.
  2. Double check that your guests are being served exactly what they ordered. If you deliver beverages to your guests, aside from visually inspecting the glass to make sure that they are receiving their correct beverage choice, you can repeat the beverage name to the patron upon delivery to confirm with them that they are receiving exactly what they ordered. If another staff member delivers beverages to your patrons for you, swing by to make sure the order is correct and they are happy with their beverage.
  3. Always card your guests if they appear to be under 30. Hospitality workers need to be concerned not only with incorrect orders and beverages, but also underage patrons who are trying to illegally obtain alcoholic beverages. To learn more about recognizing a fake or borrowed ID, refer to our blog post, “Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?” Most establishments also have a guidebook, like the I.D. Checking Guide, for validating various forms of identification. Ask your manager if you have a guide like this in your establishment and refer to it if needed. The I.D. Checking Guide can be purchased from TAM® here.

To learn more about safe beverage service, take the Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) ® course offered by TAM® of Nevada. Do you think this incident could have been prevented? What types of procedures does your establishment have in place to prevent these types of accidents from happening?


Toddler’s Alcoholic Drink Prompts Changes at Applebee’s – The Detroit News

Applebee’s Corporate Statement on Incident in Madison Heights, MI – Applebee’s

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Teen Drinking is a Dangerous Business

Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). These numbers are alarming, and service professionals should be diligent about ensuring that they are checking IDs and using their alcohol awareness training to avoid contributing to the problem.

Some adults are comfortable allowing their teenagers to drink at home, the thought process often being, “if my teenager is going to imbibe, I’d rather they do it at home under my supervision, and I don’t have to worry about them getting behind the wheel of a car or harming themselves”. Teenage drinking is dangerous, regardless of where it occurs, or who is supervising. Teens can develop dangerous drinking habits, and supervising adults should be diligent about promoting alcohol awareness and age appropriate life choices. Additionally, teens are more likely to binge drink than their adult counterparts. According to the National Society on Drug Use and Health, 72% of 18- to 20-year-old drinkers reported heavy drinking in the past month. (NSDUH).

Also alarming, a new study led by researchers at Indiana University, and summarized by CNN, shows teen problem drinking is not a phase, and could be a predictor of alcohol dependence in adulthood.

It only takes a minute to check an ID and prevent a minor from entering a bar and buying a drink, but what about off-site sales and service? Gas stations, grocery stores and liquor stores are all places that teens turn to in order to purchase liquor, and staffers at those establishments should take steps to ensure they are doing all they can to prevent illegal sales.

Service professionals must be aware of the facts and dangers of teenage drinking. These service professionals are required to obtain alcohol awareness training, and will learn valuable real-world information for dealing with these types of situations in their TAM® training. Off-site premises workers don’t necessarily know that if they sell beer and liquor to a legal adult, the adult won’t provide that liquor to teenagers, but using your best judgment and following store procedures will help to keep things safe and legal.

The national campaign We Don’t Serve Teens makes excellent and common-sense suggestions for helping to curb teenage drinking from off-site sales, “Create and maintain sales and service policies that every staffer should follow.” (We Don’t Serve Teens). Everyone involved in sales should be aware of store policies regarding acceptable forms of ID, when and how to refuse a sale, etc.

Retailers and off-site sales professionals should be diligent about checking IDs as well to make sure teenagers are not trying to purchase liquor with fake or borrowed identification. To learn more about recognizing a fake or borrowed ID, refer to our blog post, “Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?” Most establishments also have a guidebook, like the I.D. Checking Guide, for validating various forms of identification. Ask your manager if you have a guide like this in your establishment and refer to it if needed. The I.D. Checking Guide can be purchased from TAM® here.

Taking steps to stop teen drinking is everyone’s job. Parents, teens, workers, communities and others all have to work to make a difference. For more ways to help curb teens’ access to alcohol, refer to We Don’t Serve Teens’ suggestions.

What are some tricks that you’ve seen used by fake ID holders? How else do you think service workers can help curb teen drinking?


© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

ID Scanners – Friend or Foe?

ID  scanners have their benefits. They can be helpful in determining whether an ID is the real deal. Scanners can also quickly do the math for determining the age of the person represented by the ID. In these ways, ID scanners are your friends.

However, ID scanners can also be your foe if you rely solely on the scanner. If you are a manager, keep in mind that those who are new or inexperienced at checking IDs will tend to rely on technology. Take caution if you notice that your staff is making the decision to let people in, be served, or buy based on what the scanner says, without using diligent inquiries. A diligent inquiry is a dedicated effort to establish beyond doubt that the potential customer is of legal age to purchase, possess or consume alcoholic beverages.  

By skipping this process and putting all your trust in the scanner, you put yourself and your establishment at risk. Only a human being can do the work of a diligent inquiry.

Here is a scenario that describes why the scanner alone cannot do the work of checking IDs.

You are on duty at the hottest dance club on the strip. It is one busy night with a line a mile long. You scan a drivers license for a young man and get the go ahead to let the person into your establishment. The guy you let in ends up drinking too much and passes out in the bathroom. An ambulance is called and when the medics arrive, they find another ID in his wallet. Guess what? You let a minor into the club. He gave you a valid ID that he borrowed from his brother. The club you work for gets hit with a fine and you might lose your job!

You cannot automate the ID checking process by simply running IDs through a scanner. If you use scanners at your establishment, we recommend that you use them in conjunction with diligent inquiries. You need to confirm that the person represented by the ID is in fact the person standing in front of you. The only way you can avoid this type of scenario is through a diligent inquiry.

If you are a manager, make sure that your staff, especially those who are new or inexperienced, know your house policies for checking IDs and how to use the diligent inquiry technique.

TAM Card Holders, what diligent inquiry strategies did you learn in training and what methods have you successfully used when checking IDs? What are your experiences regarding the use of ID scanners?

© 2010 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada