We propose a new technique for security verification of personal documents and other forms of personal identifications such as ID cards, passports, or credit cards. In this technique a primary pattern that might be a phase-encoded image is convolved by a random code. The information is phase encoded on the personal document. Therefore the information cannot be reproduced by an intensity detector such as a CCD camera. An optical processor based on the nonlinear joint transform correlator is used to perform the verification and the validation of documents with this technique. By verification of the biometrics information and the random code simultaneously, the proposed optical system determines whether a card is authentic or is being used by an authorized person. We tested the performance of the optical system for security and validation in the presence of input noise and in the presence of distortion of the information on the card. The performance of the proposed method is evaluated by use of a number of metrics. Statistical analysis of the system is performed to investigate the noise tolerance and the discrimination against false inputs for security verification. © 1998 Optical Society of America.