Person getting their passport verified at check-in counter

Stopping Fake Identities in Air Travel — The Essential Role of ID Scanners

Fake IDs have a reputation for partying too hard. In the United States there is a black market for counterfeit driver’s licenses and passports in the under-21 demographic, who use the fakes to access clubs and buy alcohol. And in addition to the threat to the nation’s youth, the fake ID influx has negative effects in wider society, too, necessitating state-of-the-art ID scanners to read air travel documents and help detect them.

“The use of counterfeit IDs is often linked to terrorist cells, human trafficking, and other illicit and dangerous activities,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Chicago Field Office Director of Field Operations, commenting on a particularly alarming influx of fake IDs. Last October, CBP stopped two illicit shipments of counterfeit identity documents through the same Louisiana port in a single week, seizing 3,359 fake IDs.

These aren’t just cheap imitations; the modern fake ID is advanced. Today’s fake IDs are sophisticated enough to pass careful manual checks, posing a significant threat to national security. If an airport isn’t prepared, bad actors can fly freely with counterfeit documents. But equipped with the proper passport and ID scanner technology, airports can play a major role in diminishing the world’s fake ID crisis.

Filtering Fakes Without Friction

Fake IDs are hard to weed out. But the right ID or passport scanner solution, deployed at border control and security touchpoints, can catch the fakes without negatively impacting passenger flow. And that’s a crucial consideration — too much friction at passenger touchpoints during their air travel experience can drag operations to a halt, creating bottlenecks that cascade and cause delays throughout the airport’s traveler processing ecosystem.

The common knowledge used to be that increased security came at the price of user convenience. Thankfully, readily available, state-of-the-art ID document scanning devices strike a balance. To secure the passenger journey and keep operations on track, stakeholders must invest in ID document reading technology that is highly accurate, fast, and transfers scanned ID document data easily to 3rd party software and systems.

ID document scanners like the HID ATOM™ enable high quality inspections quickly — with ergonomic features like a guiding fin ensuring perfect document placement on every scan. The data collected is processed through a specialized electronic system that tests the authenticity of the passport’s printed security features, while allowing checks to be carried out against 3rd party databases. To help ensure the integrity of the personal information, multiple data elements are read and cross-checked including the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ), Visual Inspection Zone (VIZ) and biometric chip data.

The Modular Approach to Fighting Fake IDs

Rapidly detecting fake IDs at border control and security touchpoints ensures they are removed from circulation — combatting the widespread threat of fraud while strengthening the integrity of an airport’s overall identity system and keeping travelers moving smoothly. But detecting fake IDs doesn’t require a full replacement of an existing large-scale identity platform. An upgrade to document reading technology in airports can be made in a modular fashion. By adding state-of-the-art ID scanners to an existing airport identity ecosystem, facilities, agencies, and airlines can keep the skies safer by trusting their passengers with greater confidence.

HID’s modular approach to identity verification and ID document scanning ensures airports can implement strong identity controls throughout the passenger journey on their own timeline, according to their own priorities, and according to a schedule that will help them see immediate results.

To learn more about the challenges faced by airports and airlines, and how a modular approach to identity verification and passport scanning can solve them, download HID’s new eBook, Passenger Identity Verification: Opportunities and Challenges for Airlines and Airport Operations. Or explore HID’s passenger identity verification technologies.

Arthur Tay is a seasoned product marketing manager for the Access-IS business unit, part of HID’s Extended Access Technologies business area. He has several years of technical expertise in successfully managing the entire product lifecycle from ideation through development, launch and completion phases. In the past, he has worked as a global product manager for well-known brands, including Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Vertu and others. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the National University of Singapore and executive leadership training from Wharton School.