One of the most fundamental job functions of a Notary is identifying document signers, which can be achieved by using a credible witness or, more commonly, by checking an ID card. As residents of California, the 3 most common IDs presented to Notaries are CA Driver’s Licenses, CA State IDs, and US passports.¬†The first step in detecting a false ID is to know what the ID should look like. Be sure to consult your ID Checking Guide and update it annually. Besides giving you a visual, it will give you “validation” tips; things to watch out for like holograms and ghost images. CA Driver’s licenses and State IDs have had holograms for many years, however security features such UV images and holograms have become increasingly easier to replicate with technological advancements and availability.
To stay ahead of the fraudsters, California now also includes extra security features that counterfeiters find it hard to reproduce. Microprinting is one of these features. As reported by Leslie Pond of, 48 states use microprinting as a security measure on IDs. As the moniker suggests, this printing is so small that it is almost impossible to see with the naked eye; it usually just looks like a line, but using a magnifying glass with 10x magnification produces readable text. Did you know that the word “CALIFORNIA” appears on a California Driver’s license over 100 times? We counted to 74 before we went cross-eyed!
While it benefits you to stay current on ID changes and have tools to help check for validation, you do not need to spend a ton of money on fancy equipment to protect against fraud Рa simple magnifying glass can do the trick. Finally, please remember that your safety comes first. It is not your job to confiscate an ID that you suspect is false, simply refuse to notarize.