It’s no secret that fake IDs allowing underage access to liquor, tobacco, casinos, or cannabis can mean real consequences for merchants. While just about every business in these industries has some age verification measures in place, those measures need to keep pace with the current landscape to avoid consequences like big fines and loss of licensure.
Simple Safeguards May Not Be Enough
Counterfeit IDs are more sophisticated and easier to access than ever before. College students no longer have to rely on older siblings’ IDs to get into a bar or purchase controlled substances. Online merchants offer high-quality fake IDs for under $100, purchased and shipped with a few clicks of a mouse.
Once a counterfeit ID gets into someone’s hands, it’s up to employees at retailers and other facilities to spot the issue. One of the most common methods of checking IDs is with a barcode scanner linked to a business’ point of sale (POS) system. These scanners are efficient, inexpensive and easy to use. The POS software reads the barcode data on the back of the ID and confirms the patron is of age, and the transaction can proceed. Right? But what if the barcode is fake, and the employee fails to check that the information on the front of the ID matches the barcode information? In order to be certain that an ID is genuine, you need to go further to authenticate the ID.
There are other ways to manually inspect an ID for errors, but those take time. Hourly retail workers can have little in the way of incentive or training on how to spot red flags, especially with IDs becoming layered with dozens of additional visual and physical features. COVID-19 has discouraged many from handling physical objects in order to minimize contact. And even the best employee can get distracted or rushed during a transaction and potentially forget to cross-check the barcode information with that on the front of the ID.
Consequences of Counterfeit IDs Go Beyond Fines
A hefty fine can mean big trouble to a small business. And with repeat offenses, a business might have their license pulled, forcing them to shut down operations. The business has the cost burden of not only the fines but all of the lost revenue until they can reopen.
Liability is an important issue for a business as well. For example, in many states, a merchant who unwittingly sells alcohol to an underage person can be held responsible if that person injures themselves or others while intoxicated under so-called “dram shop” laws. If your business is at risk in a certain area, read up on what’s at stake and put in place appropriate measures to mitigate that risk.
With penalties, liability, and establishment reputation at stake, a more robust age verification solution can easily pay for itself when compared with the costs of fines and lost revenue. Affordable yet sophisticated ID authentication technology can confirm the validity of all readable data on the ID as well as the presence of light-based security features. This technology gives employees a much more powerful and less subjective tool to perform age verification.
Additional Advantages of Better Age Verification
Along with the technical and legal advantages, businesses that focus on rigorous age verification are “good neighbors” who take care of their communities by following the law and discouraging behavior like underage drinking or smoking.
A robust age verification solution also helps employees do their jobs better. With software doing the work of verifying IDs, employees are able to work faster and keep their focus on customer service, minimizing the chance for distractions that lead to error.
Rigorous age verification is cost effective, seamless, transparent, and can support current business practices by integrating into an existing POS or serving as a stand-alone solution.