Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

Can Your Fake ID Elude BarZapp?

The app scans the magnetic strips of identification cards to see if they are fake.

Sorry, underage college kids. That fake might fool your local bouncer, but a new app claims to know if your ID is indeed authentic.

Scanning the magnetic strip of driver's licenses and government IDs, BarZapp is able to determine if there is encoded data. If the app detects a fake ID, it will display a scrambled message. If the identification card is valid, it will show the holder's name, gender, birthday, age, and ID expiration date. BarZapp also offers a database of licenses for bartenders to check against.

A field test by Vice's tech blog Motherboard found some kinks:

When I tested the card on a friend's particularly high-grade fake (ordered online for a whopping $200—it supposedly bested blacklights and bouncers' scanners in the past), BarZapp did not say it was invalid, but it didn't approve it either. The phone more or less froze, suggesting that the technology is not 100 percent fool-proof yet.

If BarZapp lives up to its potential, its $2 price tag offers considerable savings over sophisticated ID scanners and backlights. Coeds are not going to be happy about this.

[Image: Flickr user Arielny2011]

Add New Comment


  • James

    I would say that this app is totally useless.  Most manufactured ids come complete with scannable bar codes and magnetic strips.  Plus, it doesn't address the issue of authentic ids which have been borrowed or altered.