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Card security options for campus IDs

By Tom Stiles, Identification Systems Group

Card security is an understandable concern for many public and private organizations, and the use of security features to detect fraudulent cards is increasing everywhere. An ID card is the visual verification that the person is supposed to be there, and is who they say they are, so it needs to be secure and easily validated.

Higher education may be lagging behind other vertical markets in the implementation of advanced card security features, but it really shouldn’t be. No institution wants to be involved in an incident where a fraudulent campus card is used for illegal or unethical purposes.

Other organizations routinely accept student IDs as a valid form of identification, so it is essential for your cards to be legitimate. Particularly in states where a student ID is accepted as proof of identity for voting, it makes a lot of sense to have verifiable protections on your issued cards.

The widespread availability and common knowledge of card printers makes it easy for others to duplicate the look of your card. In addition, the Internet is full of fake ID sites where you can purchase fraudulent student ID cards. Here’s just one example. The presence of these sites raises an important question: Why would these sites exist if there were no value in having a fake campus card?

It is important to protect your ID card by adding security features that you can manage and afford. There are a wide variety of advanced card security options available today, many of which aren’t overly expensive.

But before you dive in with advanced card security features, consider the following:

  • Do you want your card security features to be overt, covert, or both?
  • Should you add two card security features; one in card manufacturing and one in the issuance process?
  • What is the cost per card for these features?
  • Does the addition of a security feature during card manufacturing affect the availability and lead-time of the card stock?
  • Does the addition of a feature during card issuance affect the cost per card or time required to print the ID?

It is important to thoroughly consider the options for both aspects of card security – during the manufacturing process for the stock for fixed security items, and during the actual card issuance process.

Card manufacturing

Before your cardstock even arrives on campus, there are a host of security features that can be added to the card body during the manufacturing process. A number of these features may be proprietary to a specific manufacturer, but there are at least two features that are common for nearly all manufacturers.

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