When you serve in the military, you’ll receive a military ID card. Depending on what branch you’re serving in, what rank you hold, and your status as either an active duty soldier or a retired veteran, you’ll receive different kinds of ID cards. Even spouses and dependents are entitled to military ID cards to prove that they have a right to certain benefits.
Sadly, when benefits are involved, this gives people an incentive to create fake military ID cards and get perks they’re not actually entitled to or to scam civilians for money. Regardless, pretending to be in the military when you’re not is one of the most offensive things you can do.
Here, we’ll get into why someone might want a fake military ID, what kinds of military ID cards are most common, and how to spot a fake one.
Why Would Someone Fake a Military ID Card?
More often than not, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and almost every business you can think of will offer members of the military pretty steep discounts. It’s the least they can do to say thank you for all the sacrifices they make to keep everyone safe and free.
So, criminals who are looking to get these extreme discounts will go to lengthy measures in order to secure a fake military ID card. They want all the perks without doing any of the work to earn them.
Another reason someone might forge a military ID is to scam people into giving them money, usually lovesick online daters who meet someone through the internet who’s pretending to be a soldier. People will create fake military IDs to convince the person on the other end that they’re in the military and need help with money or other kinds of terrible “catfish” scams.
Unfortunately, a quick Google search can lead you to countless options when it comes to buying a counterfeit military ID card. From eBay to Etsy, there are lots of scams creating false military IDs and it’s important to look out for fake cards.
Types of Military ID Cards
The first kind of military ID card to mention is called a Common Access Card (CAC). It’s about the size of your average credit card and is standard for active duty military members, Selected Reserve, civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and eligible contractors.
Four classes of CACs you should know about include:
- Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions Identification Card
- U.S. DoD and/or Uniformed Services Identification Card
- U.S. DoD and/or Uniformed Services Geneva Conventions Identification Card for Civilians Accompanying the Armed Forces
- U.S. DoD and/or Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card
There is also what’s called a Uniformed Services Identification Card. Military veterans and family members could be carrying one of the following types of ID:
- DD Form 2 (Reserve)
- DD Form 2 (Retired)
- DD Form 2 (Reserve Retired)
- DD Form 1173
- DD Form 1173-1
- DD Form 2765
- DoD Civilian Retiree Card
Check out the U.S. Identification Manual to help get yourself familiar with the different kinds of military ID.
How to Spot a Fake Military ID Card
If you’re hoping to spot the differences between a fake military ID and a real one, there are a few steps you need to take.
First, you have to know what to look for. Studying the Identification Manual can help you understand what each form of ID looks like.
Then, compare the ID you received to a military ID that you know to be valid.
You should also look for misspellings and ask for another form of ID if you’re unsure.
If you’re only seeing a photo of the military ID from someone you met online, a good way to assume that it’s a fake military ID is if they’re asking you for money. No one who’s really in the military will be asking for money from someone they’ve never met in person. Active duty soldiers get a decent wage and are taken care of by the Department of Defense, so don’t fall for these money scams.
Example of a fake Military ID card
This id is fake: US Navy uniform and US Army ID doesn’t mix; 0-5 is not captain (US Army O-3 / Navy O-6).
6 Steps Guide to Identify Fake Military ID Cards
Step 1: Know the Different Types of Military ID Cards
There are several types of military ID cards, such as CAC, DEERS, and retiree ID cards. It is essential to know what they look like and their features. Fake military ID cards often appear different from real ones, so it is crucial to be able to identify the legitimate ones.
Step 2: Conduct a Visual Examination of the Card
The first thing you should do is a general visual inspection of the ID card. Look at its overall appearance, fonts, coloration, and key features. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
- Inconsistent Fonts or Coloration: If there are different fonts on the card, or the color patterns look inconsistent, there is a high chance that the ID is fake. Additionally, check for any smudging or bleeding of colors on the card. A genuine military ID card will not have any of these.
- Spelling Mistakes: Authentic military ID cards do not have spelling errors or typos. If you notice any, it is likely that the card is fake.
- Sketchy Picture: The portrait photo on the card should show the cardholder from the front view against a plain white background. If the photo on the card is of the person facing the side or with items in the background, there is a good chance that the ID is fake. The person carrying the ID might have used Photoshop to alter a fake military ID card template or a blank military ID card they found online.
- Note: It is important to look at the back of the card as well. Fake ID makers often focus on replicating the front of the ID, not the back. So, examining the back can help you catch red flags.
Step 3: Do a Physical Feel Test of the Card
Hold the card and feel the front and back. Run your fingers through the edges, taking note of any raised spots, ridges, bumps, and irregularities. Check for any physical alterations, such as overlays or glue lines, which can suggest tampering. Also, try peeling the corners with your nail. A genuine military ID card cannot be split or peeled back.
Step 4: Check the Information on the Card
You should compare the person giving you the card with the picture on the ID. If there are discrepancies, question them directly. Additionally, check for mismatches in the pay grade and rank, as many military posers do not know enough about the military to get this information right. For instance, they might state the wrong pay grade and rank on their fake cards. If you suspect that the military ID card is fake, ask them to give you their signature and compare it to the one on the card.
Step 5: Test the Cardholder Verbally
Ask the person about their personal data while holding the ID. If they are a fake card maker, they will not be able to respond without hesitation. You can also mispronounce their name and misstate their details purposely to see if they instinctively correct you with the right information.
Step 6: Observe Their Body Language and Behavior
Identifying a military poser by observing their body language and behavior is possible. Look out for the following signs:
- Avoiding Eye Contact: Genuine military personnel are usually confident and have nothing to hide, so they make eye contact.
- Showing Hesitation While Answering: Military posers
There aren’t perfect methods for verifying military ID, or really any kind of ID for that matter, especially with only a quick glance if you work at a restaurant or retail establishment looking to give someone a discount.
If you have the time, there are online resources to help verify the identity of military service members such as the Defense Manpower Data Center’s (DMDC) military verification service or signing up for verification services like ID.me.