Recent incidents regarding the photocopying of military identification cards and common access cards by commercial establishments to verify military affiliation or provide government rates for service, have been reported.
Retirees and service members are reminded that the photocopying of U.S. government identification is a violation of Title 18 (Crimes and Criminal Procedure), US Code Part I (Crimes), Chapter 33 (Emblems, Insignia, And Names), Section 701 (Official badges, identification cards, other insignia) and punishable by both fine and/or imprisonment.
The law states: “Whoever manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, or any colorable imitation thereof, or photographs, prints, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such badge, identification card, or other insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”
Many military members, family members and Department of Defense employees are unaware of this law. Criminal elements and terrorist organizations place U.S. government identifications as a high-value logistical element when planning acts against the U.S. military.
Although commercial establishments are not prohibited from asking for military/government identification, many government personnel and commercial establishments are unaware of the prohibition on duplication of government identification.
Unfortunately, there are no safeguards in place to ensure a government identification card won’t be counterfeited or “cloned” based on a photocopy by a commercial establishment.
It is recommended that military/DOD personnel provide a state driver’s license or other form of photo identification to be photocopied if an establishment insists on a photocopy of the traveler’s identification.
This does not apply to medical establishments (i.e. doctor’s office, hospitals, etc.) who are allowed take a copy for the purpose of filing insurance claims; and other government agencies performing official government business.
(Source: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense – Reserve Affairs and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve)