How to Spot a Fake Military ID Card: Things to Look For

Nowadays, it’s relatively easy and simple for anyone to purchase fake IDs online. Many minors use fake IDS to enter places they usually wouldn’t be permitted. These places include bars and nightclubs. One of the types of IDs that are popular for their perks is military ID cards.

Military members are entitled to many benefits, including discounts and healthcare. To the untrained eye, it might be challenging to decipher a false uniformed services identification card from a genuine one. However, businesses like landlords and healthcare providers must be vigilant against fake military ID cards.

Not knowing how to spot a fake military ID card can have severe consequences. Thus, you must stay vigilant and learn to tell who’s a member of active duty armed forces from fakers who want to take advantage of you. Fortunately, there are ways to determine whether an individual is a member of the United States military personnel.

Types of Military ID cards

Types of Military ID cards

Not everyone’s military ID card is the same. That’s why you should familiarize yourself with the common types of military ID cards out there. Here are the kinds of IDs you might encounter in the future, alongside unique features to help you determine their authenticity.

Common Access Card

Also known as the CAC card, this is about the standard size of a credit card. The Common Access Card is used as standard identification for active duty personnel, Selected Reserve, Department of Defense civilian employees, and eligible contractor personnel.

Common Access cards contain information such as their expiration date, federal identifier, affiliation, service/agency, color indicator, pay grade, Rank, integrated circuit chip (ICC), blood type, DoD benefits number, ghost image, date of birth, Geneva Convention category, and DoD identification number (also known as the Geneva Conventions identification card).

There are four types of CACs: the Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions identification card is the standard card for active duty personnel in accordance with the Geneva Conventions recipients. The US DoD and/or Uniformed Services identification card is the standard for qualifying civilian employees, contractors, and foreign national affiliates needing access to DoD installations and computer systems.

Meanwhile, the US DoD and/or Uniformed Services Geneva Conventions Identification card for civilians accompanying the Armed forces is issued to civilians accompanying Armed forces. The US DoD and/or Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege card is the standard card granting applicable benefits and privileges to civilian employees, contractors, foreign national military members, and other eligible personnel.

Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions Identification Card

The Armed Forces of the United States Geneva Conventions Identification card is a common access card issued to active duty personnel as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions. This type of card shows what branch of Service that military member is from.

This ID is exclusively available to Active Duty armed forces, selected reserves, reserve and national guard members on active duty for more than thirty days, contracted Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and US Public Health Services (PHS).

US Department of Defense or Uniformed Services Identification Card

This type of military ID card is issued to DoD and uniformed Services civilian employees (appropriated and non-appropriated), eligible DoD, USCG, and NOAA contractors, and non-DoD civilian employees that include USCG and NOAA, state employees working in support of the National Guard, Intergovernmental Personnel Act employees, and non-DoD federal employees working in support of DoD.

This identification card helps determine individuals that are Senior Executive Service (SES), civilians, civilian affiliates, federal affiliates, and military affiliates.

US DoD or Uniformed Services Geneva Conventions Identification Card for Civilians

This type of military ID card is issued to civilians that accompany military members. This is usually given to emergency-essential civilian employees and contingency contractor personnel. This type of military ID card stipulates if an individual is in Senior Executive Service (SES), a civilian, or a contractor.

US DoD and/or Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card

This military ID card grants ID holders privileges and benefits to civilian employees, contractors, the foreign national military, as well as other eligible personnel. This type of card is issued to DoD and uniformed Services civilian employees (appropriated and non-appropriated) when residing on a military installation within the United States and US Territories and Possessions or when stationed or employed and residing in foreign countries for at least 365 days.

It can also be granted to DoD contractors when stationed or employed and residing in foreign countries for at least 365 days, DoD Presidential appointees, uniformed and non-uniformed full-time paid personnel of the Red Cross assigned to duty with the uniformed Services within the United States, and US Territories and Possessions, when residing on a military installation, or in foreign countries. Some eligible foreign military can be granted this card as well.

This type of military ID card is commonly issued to Senior Executive Service (SES), civilians, contractors, civilian affiliates, federal affiliates, and military affiliates.

Uniformed Services ID Card

The Uniformed Services ID card is a military ID card that allows eligible members of the military community to use certain military services. This type of ID card is issued to military family members, including spouses and dependent children above ten years old. This can also be given to military 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 pay, eligible foreign military, Transitional Health Care recipients, and full-time paid personnel of the United Service Organizations and Red Cross when serving outside of the United States.

The Uniformed Services ID card can also be issued to United Seamen’s Service personnel when serving outside of the United States, officers and crews of Military Sealift Command vessels deployed to foreign countries, Select Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve personnel, and retired DoD civilian employees. This type of military ID card is also eligible to authorized dependents of military retirees, reservists, National Guard, retired reservists, National Guard not yet receiving military retirement pay, Medal of Honor recipients, 100% disabled veterans, and former spouses eligible for 20-20-20 benefits.

How To Spot A Fake Military ID Card

Unfortunately, there are many fake military ID cards out there that can be pretty convincing. If you’re interested in knowing how to spot a fake military ID card, you should know that the Department of Defense recently changed the form and appearance of the ID cards issued to military members.

Inspecting a military ID card

The new military ID card has several validation areas, and tampering can appear more evident. The consequences of using a fake military ID card are very severe, so their use in drinking establishments is quite rare.

Modern IDs are much more difficult to alter than in the past. For example, with the advancement of ID printing methods and the use of specialized plastic material, altering an ID photo is exceptionally challenging, as is rarely seen on the newer forms of ID. The trend nowadays in altering IDs is to change the date of birth, specifically the “Under 18 until” or “Under 21 until” dates. One of the common methods used in making fake military ID cards is to use clear fingernail polish or superglue and write or print new dates above the polish or glue.

If you’re examining a possible fake military ID card, it would be ideal to be on the lookout for the following:

  • Check for small raised spots or small shiny spots over the birth date or the “Under Until” dates
  • Check for changes in font or coloration
  • Different types of font on the card
  • Bleeding or smudging of color on the card
  • Ridges or raised spots on the card

When spotting a fake military ID card, you need to double-check for key details. Here are some portions you should be on the lookout for:

  • Check the birth date, expiration date, and photographs
  • If the ID is a duplicate, request a second form of identification
  • Check hair and eye color, weight, and height
  • Check the identification itself for physical alterations or maybe some tampering

You shouldn’t stop at the information indicated on the possibly fake military ID card. It would also be great if you could physically inspect the ID for any peculiarities. How do you do this?

  • Check the ID’s rigidity. A fake ID will often have a different weight or thickness than a genuine ID. You can gently squeeze the ID to determine if the card feels right.
  • Check the card’s edges. Almost all IDs have rounded edges around the entire ID. If the edges feel square, it may be possible that the ID has a false front.
  • Check and feel the back and front of the ID. You should feel for bumps, ridges, and other irregularities.
  • Check the ID corners. A real ID’s corners cannot be peeled back or split. It is most likely a fake ID if you can peel back or break the corners with your nail.
  • Conduct a general visual examination of the overall appearance, fonts, and coloration patterns. Look for any available security features that should be present on valid IDs.
  • Don’t forget also to check the back of the ID. Creators of forged IDs take great care to duplicate the front part of the ID but often neglect to exert the same effort for the quality of the back.

Common Techniques Used by Scammers To Create Fake Military Cards

Military ID cards contain several standard information on every form of military identification. The front of the card should include the following information:

  • Full name (with a barcode under the name)
  • Photo (top left corner with ‘AME’ under image)
  • Expiration date (top right corner)
  • Affiliation
  • Agency/service
  • Pay grade (left) and Rank (right)
  • Federal identifier (top left corner, slightly above expiration date)
  • Color indicator (white, green, or blue)
  • Golden Integrated Circuit Chip (ICC) (left and under Pay Grade)

The back part of the ID contains the following information:

  • Duplicate photo (right)
  • DoD benefits number (top of the photo)
  • Date of birth (under the photo)
  • DoD Identification number (next to the date of birth)
  • Geneva Convention Category (next to DoD ID number)

Most fake IDs look vastly different from the official version. Generally speaking, scammers fail to pass the authenticity test in the subtle details of the card. Thus, it would be ideal to physically examine the military ID card to determine if it’s genuine.

You should look out for several red flags when inspecting a military ID card. First, you should check if the card’s fonts and colors appear consistent. Authentic military identification cards are produced consistently and without glaring errors.

Another thing you should be on the lookout for is spelling and typographical errors. You should also check for the photograph to match the individual you’re talking to. While it shouldn’t necessarily be an exact match, there should be a strong resemblance. Lastly, you should also ensure to check the back of the card. Imposters rarely try to make the back of the ID card appear legitimate.

Reporting Fake Military ID Cards

To be clear, the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General is not authorized to investigate individuals posing to be military personnel. You should report such scams to local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission at or (877) 382-4357. 

You can also call the DoD hotline for further assistance:

  • 800-424-9098 (Toll-Free)
  • 703-604-8799 (Commercial)
  • 664-8799 (DSN)


Fake military IDs can be used to take advantage of people who don’t know any better. That’s why you must be vigilant when it comes to inspecting military IDs. Nowadays, it can be challenging to decipher authentic IDs from fake ones. However, if you pay attention to the minute details and take extra care, you can tell whether a person claiming to be part of the military service is lying.

Posing to be a military member is a criminal offense, and you wouldn’t want anyone to take advantage of you. That’s why knowing how to spot a fake military ID card from real ones is a must.


Can someone fake a military ID?

No, the US government has a rigid process to ensure that making fake IDs for military cards is challenging. There is plenty of information on the card that can be extremely difficult to falsify. However, that doesn’t stop scammers from attempting to do so.

What does a military ID number look like?

The following formats were used to denote U.S. military service numbers:

  • 12-345-678: US Air Force and Army enlisted service members
  • 123-45-67: US Navy enlisted service numbers
  • 1234-567: US Coast Guard enlisted service numbers
  • 123-456: US Marine Corps enlisted service members
  • 12345: Service number format for most US military officers

What does the W mean on a military ID?

W on a military ID stands for white. Since 2015, all CACs contain an affiliation color code in a white circle under the expiration date. These changes make it easy for visually-impaired individuals to identify ID bearers that are from the government, military, contractor civilians or foreign nationals.

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