How To Spot A Fake Military ID Card

Military personnel are entitled to many benefits, including healthcare and housing incentives. Being part of the military is considered an honor, and that’s why some people pretend to be military. Fortunately, there are ways to decipher if someone shows off fake military IDs.

You should be vigilant if you’re a person in business or service provider that military members can benefit from. Some pretenders might want to take advantage of military privileges. Once you’re familiar with what a genuine military ID card should look like, it’ll be easier to separate people entitled to benefits by law from those who want to take advantage of you.

Techniques Used To Create Fake Military ID Cards

fake military id card

To decipher military retirees from scammers, you should familiarize yourself with how people usually make fake IDs. Basic fake IDs are commonly made using an inkjet or laser printer to print a replica document which is then laminated to look like an actual ID card. Most counterfeit cards are made using computer programs, re-creating scanned copies of a genuine military ID card.

More complex ID cards are created by printing on a material called Teslin or Artisyn. These are paper-like materials that are micro-porous plastic sheets. When butterfly pouches and holograms are applied, the card is run through a heat laminator, resulting in a professional-looking ID card.

No matter how sophisticated fakers’ forgery techniques are nowadays, there are ways to distinguish genuine from fake ones. The military has undergone multiple upgrades to lessen the success rate of scammers pretending to be military personnel.

How To Spot A Fake Military ID Card: 5 Steps To Follow

In fact, it only takes five basic steps to determine a fake military ID from a genuine one. Once you know these steps, you won’t be fooled by pretenders who want to take advantage of you.

Step 1: Know The Different Types Of Military ID Cards

The first step is determining which ID cards Active duty personnel and military veterans use to claim their military benefits. Once enlisted, they’re usually given IDs and documents to prove they’re part of the military.

Common Access Card (CAC)

A common access card is a standard ID card for members of the active duty force, Selected Reserve, and people from the Department of Defense. This military ID card is about the size of a credit card. The CAC is intended to grant users access to secured network systems and document affiliations. Some civilian employees and contractors may also be issued this type of military ID if necessary.

Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions Identification Card

This is an identity document issued by the United States Department of Defense to identify Armed Forces members and their dependents, meaning military family members. This card is used to control access to military bases and commissaries. It also proves eligibility for medical care delivered within the military health system or outside via TRICARE.

US Department of Defense or Uniformed Services Identification Card

This identity document allows eligible military community members to use certain military services. This ID card is issued to military family members, retirees, reservists, inactive National Guard members, members on the Temporary Disability Retired List and the Permanent Disability Retired List, retired reserve not yet drawing military retirement pay, and 100% disabled veterans.

This identification card is also issued to former members in receipt of retired pay, eligible foreign military, Transitional Health Care recipients, full-time paid personnel of the United Service Organizations and Red Cross when serving outside the US, United Seamen’s personnel when serving outside the US, officers and crews of Military Sealift Command vessels deployed abroad, Select Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve personnel, and retired DOD civilian employees.

U.S DoD or Uniformed Services Geneva Conventions Identification Card for Civilians

This special military ID card is issued to civilian employees and contractors who are given access to particular military jurisdictions. To begin with, cardholders are granted limited access, given the nature of why they’re given the card.

U.S DoD and/or Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card

This identity card is issued to retired and reserve members, dependent family members of Uniformed Service members, and other eligible individuals with Department of Defense policy to facilitate access to certain benefits, privileges, and bases.

Uniformed Services ID (USID) Card

Also known as the Next Generation Uniformed Services ID, this ID card is usually issued to family members and retirees. This was first issued in July 2020, granting its holders service benefits and privileges. This card is granted based on a person’s eligibility for military benefits.

Step 2: Conduct A Visual Inspection Of The Card

Take the card and conduct a general visual examination of it. You should check out its security features, markings, and other indicators of authenticity. The typical military ID card has various security features to avoid the forgery of fake military ID cards. A fake military ID card usually has several red flags, which may include the following:

  • Inconsistent fonts or coloration. If there are multiple different fonts and the color patterns seem oddly inconsistent, there’s a huge chance you’re dealing with a fake military ID card. You should also check for any smudging or bleeding of color within the card.
  • Spelling mistakes. A military ID card is issued with great care as the cardholders use it for important matters. A genuine military ID will not have any spelling errors or typos. If you spot any of these errors, you’re probably dealing with a fake military ID card.
  • Sketchy picture. The photograph on a military ID card should be a portrait of the cardholder from the front view. It should be taken against a plain white background. If the photo on the ID card has the person facing sideways or there are items in the background, you’re most probably looking at a fake military ID card. The cardholder may have used Photoshop to alter a fake military ID card template or military card they found online.
  • Mismatched pay grade and rank. Most military fakers aren’t familiar with military pay grade and rank. Typically, they include front information and go with it. If you have a feeling you’re dealing with a fake military ID, you should have the cardholder sign on a piece of paper and compare it with the one on the military ID card.

Consistency is critical to spotting fake military ID cards from authentic ones. Most fake military ID cards have poor attention to detail. Thus, you should inspect military ID cards to verify any inconsistencies or factors that may lead you to believe that what you’re looking at is fake.

Step 3: Check The Card’s Texture

Another way to spot a fake military ID card is by inspecting the card’s texture. You should hold the card and feel the front and back. It would help to run your fingers through the card’s edges. You should take note if there are any raised spots, ridges, bumps, and other irregularities.

Physical alterations that may suggest tamperings, like overlays and glue lines, indicate that you’re dealing with a fake military ID. You should also try to peel the card with your nail. An authentic military ID shouldn’t be split or peeled back.

Step 4: Verify The information

Here’s the thing: a member of the armed forces would probably have memorized the contents of their military ID. You should test the cardholder on the ID’s content to spot a fake military ID card. While holding the card, you should ask the cardholder about the data written on the ID.

One good way to verify military ID cards is to mispronounce or misstate details purposely. Genuine cardholders would instinctively correct you because they know everything on that ID, like the back of their hand.

It would help if you also asked for information about their military service as a background check. If the cardholder is authentic, they shouldn’t have a problem sharing information with you quickly. After all, they should know what they do for a living.

Step 5: Observe Their body Language And Behavior

It’s also possible for you to spot a military pose by analyzing a person’s body language and behavior. Some typical signs that a person is lying include avoiding eye contact, hesitating while answering your questions, and attempting to intimidate or appear indifferent.

After all, military posers care about the consequences of posing as a military member. They may look worried or nervous that they’ll be found out. Thus, it would help if you were looking for signs that they’re faking it.

Consequences Of Using A Fake Military ID Card

Anytime an identification card is falsified, it is considered fraud and punishable by law. There are cases wherein people who have posed to be part of the military have gone to jail. The severity of the penalties or legal implications varies on a case-to-case basis. After all, military members and their dependents are entitled to some very attractive benefits. Thus, people who try to take advantage of these privileges get punished.

A person carrying a fake military ID card may affect the business it’s trying to take advantage of. This means less revenue for the business owner. If that person is trying to use the card to get healthcare benefits, this may mean they’ll get treatments or procedures that should be allocated to someone who’s entitled to it.

Using a fake military ID card also causes trouble for authentic cardholders because they have to go through the trouble of proving their genuineness.

A man from New York was convicted and using military identification cards. As a consequence, he was sentenced to three months in jail, and he had to serve 300 hours of community service.

Another example of a person who had to face the consequences of using a fake military ID is a man from Cabazon. This man was sentenced to six months imprisonment for posing as a military member. He also had to serve three years of probation because of his crime. In general, the maximum length of imprisonment for people who use military ID cards is six months. However, the actual length of imprisonment depends on the severity of that person’s crimes.

Reporting Fake Military ID Cards

If you spot a fake military ID, you should report it to the authorities. Falsifying an ID is considered a criminal offense, and you should tell the authorities if you know of someone using a fake uniformed services identification card to obtain military member benefits.

You don’t necessarily have to go straight to the Department of Defense to report a crime. You can report the crime to local authorities or veteran offices. You can also contact the nearest military base for assistance so the suspect will be apprehended by the proper authorities. It would be best if you contacted the military branch that the person is pretending to be from so they can take action accordingly.

Fortunately, the internet has made it easier for people to report any incidents of forgery, including reporting a fake military ID. You don’t even have to go to the actual office to report a crime.


Identity theft is considered a crime, and reporting fake military ID cards is the responsible thing to do. Despite the advances in identity forgery, it’s relatively simple to determine how to spot a fake military ID card. A fake military ID card is just like any other fake IDs. There are inconsistencies and obvious giveaways that can help anyone determine that they’re fake. You don’t need to be an expert to determine if you’re dealing with a fake or not.

Be as it may, every time a person who’s not entitled to military benefits gets away from this crime, it affects the integrity of the hardworking servicemen who risk their rights for their privileges. Thus, reporting any falsified military information is only the right thing to do.

If you are a military servicemember or have questions about the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), be sure to visit the SCRA Centralized Verification Service (SCRACVS) to ensure that your rights are being protected.


Are there fake military IDs?

Yes, some people develop fake military IDs to take advantage of the privileges that military members and their dependents enjoy. Fortunately, it’s generally easy to spot a fake card from a genuine one if you know the basics.

What does a real military ID card look like?

A real military card would contain a small chip, just like a credit card. While there are different kinds of IDs, in general, these cards should contain a cardholder’s name, a front-facing photo, expiration date, affiliation, service/agency, rank, and a vertical bar code.

What are the different types of military ID cards?

In general, there are six types of military ID cards. These include Common Access Card (CAC), Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions Identification Card, U.S Department of Defense or Uniformed Services Identification Card, U.S DoD or Uniformed Services Geneva Conventions Identification Card for Civilians, U.S DoD and/or Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card, and Uniformed Services ID (USID) Card.

Do the military have ID numbers?

Yes, every military member and their dependents are issued with ID numbers. The cardholder should have memorized their number because they use it for various purposes.

What should I do if I find a fake military ID card?

You should report it to the authorities if you spot a fake military ID. This is considered a federal offense, and the perpetrators should be punished accordingly.

Attorney Roy Kaufmann serves as the Director of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service, located in Washington, D.C. As a recognized authority on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Mr. Kaufmann has published hundreds of articles and hosted many webinars. His teachings help law firms and businesses to remain compliant with the SCRA rules and regulations so as to avoid costly fines.