Company Debuts iPhone App That Could Spike Underage Drinking

Bartenders will be able to detect many varieties of fake IDs with new app, company says.

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Youngsters lacking authentic government-issued IDs showing they are over 21 years old may find it harder to get into bars that use a new iPhone app.
Youngsters lacking authentic government-issued IDs showing they are over 21 years old may find it harder to get into bars that use a new iPhone app.

Intellicheck Mobilisa, the company that provides software for many conventional ID scanners used by stores, has debuted a new iPhone application designed to foil attempts by underage drinkers to fool bartenders and bouncers with fake IDs.

The application, called barZapp, became available July 1 and has already been downloaded close to 1,000 times, according to the company. It's available for download on iTunes for $1.99 – for limited use – or $19.95 a month for unlimited scans.

"Anyone who has an iPhone can just point it at the bar code" and use the app to pull up encoded information, including the owner's age, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, hair color and the card's expiration date, Intellicheck Mobilisa CEO Nelson Ludlow told U.S. News.

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It's "clean and simple," he said, and "way cheaper for the stores" than conventional bar code scanners that require stationary hardware.

Several varieties of common fake IDs can be detected with barZapp, Ludlow explained, including IDs whose non-encrypted information has been tampered with, expired hand-me-downs from older family members and expensive fakes with altered bar codes.

"We don't catch all fake IDs, but we do catch a lot," Ludlow said. "China is making a lot of high-end fake IDs that people pay 200 or 300 dollars for, and we catch a significant amount of them. If someone fiddles with a date or something in the bar code... you better do it exactly the right way."

In most bars and restaurants bartenders currently eyeball IDs to ensure prospective drinkers are at least 21 years old. Ludlow says his company's technology will allow bars to show authorities that they do indeed keep records.

One piece of information not recorded by the app is the address of cardholders. Ludlow explained this is to protect against bouncers using the technology to stalk patrons or store owners using the information for junk mailings.

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Although the app is geared toward bartenders and bouncers, it can also be used by tobacco sellers or reconfigured to check against other age limits.

Ludlow says that although his company isn't necessarily a household name, it has the largest state ID repository in the country and consults with states on bar code changes. If you see a license scanner in a U.S. store "it's extremely likely that [it has our] software inside," he said.

"A few years ago someone sued us for having a monopoly on reading driver's licenses," the CEO recalled. Although a few companies, including RedLaser and Abycus, offer similar apps, Ludlow says his company has a competitive advantage because it can scan licenses from all American states and Canadian provinces.

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