Spelling Errors as a Counterfeiting Defense
This is a weird rumor.
ID cards in Belgium are being printed with intentional misspellings in an attempt to thwart potential fraudsters.
Four circular arcs on the ID cards show the country's name in different languages -- French, Dutch, German and English. According to the article, the German and English arcs will be spelled incorrectly, and misspellings will also appear elsewhere on the cards. The idea is that people making counterfeit cards won't notice the misspellings on the originals and will print the fraudulent cards with the names spelled properly.
More information is here:
To trick fraudsters, the Home Office has introduced three circular arcs on the card -- just beneath the identity photos -- where you will find the name of the country in the official languages spoken in Belgium -- French, Dutch and German, as well as in English. But instead of 'Belgien' in German, the ID card incorrectly uses the name 'Belgine' and instead of 'Belgium' in English, the card reads 'Belguim'. Vanneste has promised other errors will be printed on the card to "further confuse fraudsters". With any luck, these will not be revealed.
I'm not impressed with this as a countermeasure. It's certainly true that poor counterfeits will have all sorts of noticeable errors -- and correct spelling might certainly be one of them. But the more people that know about the misspellings, the less likely a counterfeiter will get it wrong. And the more likely a counterfeiter will get it wrong, the less likely anyone will notice.
I'm all for hard-to-counterfeit features in ID cards. But why make them grammatical?
Posted on June 1, 2005 at 7:58 AM • 45 Comments