Let Me See Your ID Again

Passport_cardWhen we think of IDs (identification documents), we often think that having our photo on it makes it impossible for anyone else to use it. That’s not necessarily (100%) true.

A study published recently tested how well people spotted (identified; found) fake (not real or authentic) IDs, especially in real-world (true; actual) situations. For example, one place where you want to know if someone is using a fake ID is in an airport security line.

But in that sort of real-world situation, the person looking at IDs is unlikely to come across (see) many fake IDs. The overwhelming (by a large amount) majority of people use their real IDs at an airport.

And that’s precisely the problem. According to the results of this study, the less frequently a person comes across a fake ID, the less likely he or she is able to spot one. In the study, when the frequency of fakes was high, the study participants were wrong only 20% of the time. But when there were fewer fakes, they were wrong 40% of the time.

Part of the difficulty in using photo IDs to identify people is that people age (grow older), change their hairstyles, wear glasses or not, or wear make-up or not (cosmetics worn on the face to improve one’s appearance). In the study, many of the photos were taken months or years before the time of the study, which also match real-world conditions. In the U.S., many passports and drivers licenses are valid (acceptable by law or rule) for 10 years or more.

I recently renewed (extended the period for) my California driver’s license. When I got my previous license, it was good for (valid for) 10 years. I was able to renew my license for five more years using the government website without having a new photo taken. This means that at the end of the five-year period, my picture will be 15 years old. Without plastic surgery (medical procedures to improve my appearance) or a wig, I will look very different and much older than when I first had the picture taken back in the Clinton administration (when Bill Clinton was president of the U.S.).

Who might be good at spotting fake IDs? In other words, what kind of person sees a lot of fake IDs as part of his or her job? One answer will not surprise you: bouncers, people hired by nightclubs and bars to keep out people who are underage (younger than the legal drinking age, usually 21) or who are causing problems. They encounter fake IDs all the time, especially here in the U.S.

Perhaps the solution is simply:  Hire more bouncers as security screeners (people who check documents to be sure that person is safe to allow into a place)!

– Jeff

Image Credit: Passport card from Wikipedia

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27 Responses to Let Me See Your ID Again

  1. WangLuu says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Yes, the topic you brought up reminds me of the MH370 airplane. I was sort of jaw dropped at the news that there were 2 men using 2 counterfeit visas in order to get on board of the missing plane in Malaysia.

    Fortunately, these guys were identified as being in a chain of smuggling immigrants into The UK later on. I mean, otherwise, they would not only commit their fates but also get a notoriety.

    You know what, writing this comment out makes me feel bad at the moment. I remember the article mentioned the two suspects’ mother and that hurts me. The thought of a woman who are now grieving for her

    two sons in the UK makes me feel sick. Think about that, they were sort of, psyched as children about reunifying with each other, then boom…the plane that was supposed to carry the joy for the family crashes into the

    Indian ocean, turns out as a nightmare for the mother who has been living and bearing the lost by her own. Yeap that hurt chills me to the bone!

    And sorry, I was a bit off-centered to the topic. Everybody knows that hard work makes wisdom right?! Back into my country, everywhere you go that relates to the government you better carry along your ID. They

    always ask for your ID first then will be the reason of your presence. Poor the country, we don’t have a technical government where her citizens would be identified by a code, then it should be much more easy for them

    to travel along the country. so I should say the officials in my country are quite skillful at that, scanning your IDs 😀

  2. Tania says:

    Hi! Very interesting topic teleporting us in the interlope world with fake IDs.
    The ability to match faces to photographs without error assumes an excellent memory of the people’s faces.
    And this is one of the qualities of the security screeners or detectives from the airports.
    I remember a movie with Bruce Willis changeing his ID using the make-up.
    A very good performance like actor, in my opinion.

  3. Tania says:

    Hi! And the Police uses the face to photo matching.
    Unfortunately, there are and errors in the witness’ matching and
    not guilty people can be punished without any reason.

  4. Tania says:

    Hi! I don’t know if I have this ability to match faces to photographs.
    But when I see a person after many, many years I can recognise him or her.
    An image comes from my brain and I can remember.

  5. Tania says:

    Hi! A link between this topic and the English Cafe 443: the verb to match (face- matching and matchmaker).
    I’d like to read “Fiddler On The Roof”, the book by Joseph Stein.
    I did not find it at my public library.
    I have read about the 1964 musical on Wikipedia. It remains Broadway’s sixteenth longest-
    running show in history.
    I am fascinated that the musicals are studied in schools.
    I this way we can learn many things about life as children in a pleasant way.
    Music, poetry,…and many good advices.

  6. Jerome says:

    i am really thougtful in reading your comment for it involves of the latest news concerned by the global .What’s more, you show me your critical mind and proficiency in the comment .

  7. Tania says:

    Hi! I like the songs sung by you.
    Delivering milk, Tevye asks God, whom would it hurt “If I Were a Rich Man”?
    In fact, there are the usually answers at this question.

    “Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
    I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor.
    But it’s no great honor either!”

  8. Tania says:

    Hi! And then the answers follow:

    “If I were a wealthy man
    1) I wouldn’t have to work hard.
    2) I’d build a tall house…
    3) I’d fill my yard with chicks…
    For the town to see and hear.
    As if to say “here lives a wealthy man.”

  9. Tania says:

    Hi! Tevye is thinking about his wife, too:

    “I see my wife looking like a rich man’s wife
    Oy, what a happy mood she’s in.
    Screaming at the servants, day and night.”

  10. Tania says:

    Hi! But like everybody, he is the most important person in the world.

    “The most important men in town would come to fawn on me!
    They would ask me to advise them.”
    And he adds ironically:
    “When you’re rich, they think you really know!”

    The dreams of all of us.

  11. Tania says:

    Hi! The song “Tradition” remember me of the Dan’s answer at the topic “It’s Still Mom at Bedtime”.
    He said:
    “First, women must get back behind the burners where they belong.
    Second, the man ought to be the breadwinner.”

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! Reading the song “Tradition”, let me to write some lyrics!
    To father:

    “Who , day and night , must scramble for a living,
    Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
    And who has the right , as master of the house,
    To have the final word at home?

    The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.”

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! To mother:

    “Who must know the way to make a proper home,
    A quiet home?
    Who must raise the family and run the home,
    So Papa’s free to read the holy books?

    The Mama, the mama! tradition!”

    By the way, we say “mama” or “mamy”, our first word as child, for “mother”.

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! And this quotation remember me of an Indian blog friend (some years ago) who said us a saying:
    “- An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
    – Very good. That way the whole world will be blind and toothless.”

  15. Dan says:

    Hi Jeff, hello guys,

    Hey Jeff, yesterday evening I went sleeping a little bit worried having not seen the post at the usual time.
    First thing this morning I checked for the post and I was a happy man.

    I would have loved to see Jeff’s photo with hair.
    The photo in my ID was taken twenty years ago, and I still have all my hair.

    I have not change that much during all these years. Just a little bit of grey hair, that’s all.
    Same weight, no potbelly. Always the same! I do not even care, I just was born like that.

    I had never thought about that before, but reading that make up is worn to improve one’s appearance sounds little bit harsh.
    I mean, is that the only reason women, today even some men, wear make up?

    It is like saying one has a ugly face and needs make up to fix it. It would be interesting knowing more about it from the ladies.


  16. Parviz says:

    Hi everybody,
    I know I have been missing all the fun, here.
    Let’s say that I had been quite tied up.
    The post is really great. There are some new words and phrases that I have been looking for.
    So, thanks Jeff.
    And This is your shiny bright head that I adore.
    And I would marry you for that impression alone.
    Tania, thank you for wanting me to be here.
    So why is that you frequently leave several posts at once?
    Isn’t it to make the blog seem busy?
    And I know women never seem Older than 18 (No matter how old they are).
    But, Do you have a family (husband/child)?
    And this is for you:
    Once upon a time there was a child ready to be born . So one day he asked God: “How am I going to live on earth being so small and helpless ?”

    God replied , “Among the many angels, I chose one for you. She will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”

    Baby said: “But tell me, here in Heaven , I don’t do anything else but sing and smile, that’s enough for me to be happy.”

    God said:“ Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you every day. And you will feel your angel’s love and be happy.”
    Baby said “And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me, if I don’t know the language that men talk?”
    God said “Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”
    Baby said “And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?”
    God said “Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray
    Baby said “I’ve heard that on earth there are bad men. Who will protect me?”
    God said “Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life
    “But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.”


  17. Tania says:

    Hi! And now a joke from “Fiddler on the Roof”:

    “-How is your brother-in-low? In America?
    – Oh, he’s doing very well.
    – Oh, he wrote you?
    – No, no lately.
    – Then how do you know?
    – If he was doing badly, he would write.”

  18. Tania says:

    Hi! And about love:

    “Motel and Tzeitel have been married. They work very hard, and they’re as poor as squirrels in winter.
    But, they’re so happy, they don’t know how miserable they are.”

    In real life and in many movies I have heard many people saying: we were very happy at the beginning
    when we were poor people. In my opinion, having a lot of money you are thinking about them all the time
    forgeting your most beloved persons.

  19. Tania says:

    Hi! And a poetical moment to all our dear blog friends:

    “Sunrise, sunset
    Swiftly flow the days.
    Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
    Blossoming even as we gaze.

    Sunrise, sunset
    Swiftly fly the years
    One season following another
    Laden with happiness and tears.”

    And a good advice for children:

    “How can I help to ease their way?”
    “Now they must learn from one another
    Day by day”.

  20. Tania says:

    Hi! I think that and our ESLPodcast teachers think about
    “How can I help to ease their way?” (learning English swiftly)

    And the answer is:
    “Now we must learn from one another
    Day by day”.

    This is my reason for which I try to write , post on our blog, interacting with
    our dear teachers and our dear blog friends as frequently as I can.
    And I like to read different opinions on the same topic, taking into account
    we are belong of different countries and cultures.

  21. Tania says:

    Hi! Thank you very much for your dedication to me, Parviz.

    I have the same regret:

    “But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.” (my dear teachers and blog friends).

  22. Lasorigin says:

    Hi Everybody,

    I think that the results of studies are very surprising.
    Maybe if offical administrations changes the laws about identification documents especially about the time to renewed them, then it will be maybe more easy to detect the fake identification documents.

    This is one facteur among others of course.

    See you soon.


  23. Dan says:

    Am I the only one feeling like something is going on?

    Something strange?

  24. Tania says:

    Hi! We are not alone. We are together with our dear teachers and blog friends.

    Strange is the fact that Emiliano has not written yet, and many other blog friends.

  25. Betty says:

    Hi Tania

    Thanks for keep writing although almost everyone has gone quiet.

    I am sorry for my absence. I have my reason – no time and don’t know what to say.

    What’s everyone’s reasons for disappearing?

    Too busy spring cleaning? Too busy sorting out other things?

    Whatever the reasons are, I hope you all are very well.


    Dear Emiliano, Tania and Dan

    Thank you for offering comfort to me. I deeply appreciate your kindness in giving me emotional support. I think no one wants to see their old parents finally reached the destination of their journey of life, but since the creator of this earth decides that everything that has a beginning must have an ending, we are just grateful that the journey from the beginning to the end is as smooth as possible.

    Fortunately my late father had long anticipated the final day would come and prepared everything well in advance. I had to give him a lot of help to prepare everything he wanted to prepare. So my mind was very aware of what was going on. In a way, it made it easier for us his children to sort out everything because we had been warned well in advance about this day.

    Many thanks again

    Best Regards


  26. emiliano says:


    Far away from our real world
    quite we see the past of days
    gathering enough time see
    passing off the years.

    Sunset shorten our time
    uncertain future we await
    despite prisioners here we are
    without anxiety we are.

    Happy following the path
    sooner or later the end would be
    of our life being in peace
    waiting the end of life together.


    Everything is going on, don´t be concern dear blog´s friends
    only my dear Cuca is just a little worst and needs more care
    and attention.

    Thanks Betty and Tania.


  27. Dan says:

    Hi Betty!

    Finally! I am happy to see you are back.

    As you can see I am not busy, even though I Spring cleaning all the time, not just in Spring time. With three cats you can figure out the amount of fur all over, even on myself.

    I like cleaning. My best friend is Ammonia. I no longer buy all those thousand of product we all are supposed to buy for every single surface in the house.

    At the end they are all ammonia based with some nice color and smell added. I just use ammonia diluted in water that’s all! I like the smell of it, do you?


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