How do you know if a barcode is fake?

A woman reading a barcode from a package with a laptop behind it

Barcodes are present in our day to day. We can find this system, which allows to encode numbers and letters through an image, in various formats that encode in different ways. Each of them is designed to fulfill a specific task, depending on the information they collect. In this way, we can find two large groups: one-dimensional codes and two-dimensional codes. They can also collect information depending on the type.

This time we will explain how to know if a barcode is fake, specifically the EAN code (European Article Number). The EAN or IAN (International Article Number) is one of the most used, since we can see it in the products sold in stores. They are used to identify items. The EAN-13 code is widespread in Europe and almost all over the world, except the United States and Canada, where the UPC (Universal Product Code) is used.

Certify barcodes

The EAN code is approved following GS1 standards. Thus, they allow anyone to read a barcode, as it creates a "common language" for international manufacturers and distributors. These standards identify items, capture them in an image formed by the barcode and allow information exchanges to be structured.

Before placing a product identified with an EAN code on the market, it must be purchased. To do this, it is necessary to look for an official certifier that provides the certified EAN codes.

Detect a fake EAN code quickly…

Sometimes, we can be faced with a fake EAN barcode without knowing it. Whether due to an error or fraud, it is possible that it reaches our hands because it is purchased or is already printed on the product. Whatever the reason, you should avoid marketing with fake EAN codes, as it can generate problems.

Model of an EAN barcode

If when using a reader or scanner the code cannot be deciphered, we will undoubtedly be facing an error. Another option is that, when reading the black and white lines of the code, the number does not match the figure below. These two cases are the easiest to detect.

… or a more elaborate one

Deciphering an EAN barcode is very simple: you just have to know the position of the numbers, and they will give us all the details. The first two digits indicate the country of origin, while the next five correspond to the identifier of the company that manufactured the product. Those that are placed between the eighth and twelfth position belong to the specific article.

Finally, the barcode ends with a check digit, which serves to corroborate that the code is correct. To obtain it, you must add the numbers of the odd positions, multiply the result by three and add the digits of the even positions. After this, we round the result to the next top ten and the check digit will be the amount we have needed to reach rounding. That is, if the result were different from the check digit, we would be facing a false EAN code.

As a last option to verify the legitimacy of the code, we can enter the full number in the GS1 search engine and check that the information matches.

If you still have questions about barcodes, contact the Logiscenter technical team and they will help you with everything you need.