A birth certificate is an essential document to prove one’s identity. If you have lost your birth certificate or if you believe that it was stolen from you, you might be worried whether someone can use it to commit fraud or any illegal activity.
What can someone actually do with your birth certificate? To understand this topic further, it is important to discuss what a birth certificate is used for. We will also talk about how easy or difficult it is to acquire a birth certificate and what to do if you have misplaced this document or someone stole it from you.
When Would You Need to Present a Birth Certificate?
Your birth certificate is a record of your birth that includes personal information about you including your full name, the time and date of birth, and place of birth. Your birth certificate also has information about your parents including their full name, place of birth, and date of birth.
When is a birth certificate required? What is it used for? A birth certificate is one of the primary documents needed when you need a proof of identity. It is often required when you need to apply for other documents or entry to organizations.
Below are just some of the common instances where you would be required to present your birth certificate.
1. A birth certificate may be needed when obtaining a driver’s license.
In most states, a birth certificate is required as a proof of identity when you want to obtain a driver’s license. This document will prove that you are of the right age to drive and be issued a license. There are also some states that require you to present your birth certificate when you need to renew your driver’s license.
2. A birth certificate may be required when you register for school.
Most schools will ask you to present your birth certificate as one of the requirements so you can register or enroll in the institution. This document is required as proof of age and identity so that students can be placed in the appropriate class with their age as the basis.
3. A birth certificate may be required when getting a marriage license.
When you’re planning to get married, you will need to obtain a marriage license to go through the marriage. In some states, a birth certificate is required to prove your identity before you can be issued a marriage license.
4. A birth certificate may be required for travel or visa purposes.
If you’re planning to travel, you will need to obtain a passport. In the passport application process, you will need to present your birth certificate as a proof of identity. Other travel companies like cruise liners may also require your birth certificate before you are allowed to travel. A birth certificate may also be needed when you are trying to get visas from other countries.
5. A birth certificate may be required if you’re participating in sports programs.
One of the primary requirements when entering a sports program is to prove your age. This is important to show that you are entering the correct category or if you qualify with the age requirements for that certain sport.
For example, if you are a football player who wants to compete in the Olympic football games, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) requires your birth certificate as one of the documents required to prove your identity so you will be allowed to play.
6. A birth certificate may be needed to obtain your Social Security card.
Your birth certificate may be required as an additional proof of identity when you want to obtain a copy of your social security card.
7. A birth certificate is required when you want to enlist in the military.
If you are planning to enlist in the army, you will need to show a certified copy of your birth certificate as one of your proof of identity.
8. A birth certificate may be required when claiming retirement benefits
Your original birth certificate is required when applying for retirement benefits in the United States. This is an accepted document to prove your age.
What Can Someone Do With Your Birth Certificate?
As discussed in the earlier section, your birth certificate can be used as proof of identity to obtain different government documents or benefits. If someone gets hold of your birth certificate, that person can use this document to commit different illegal acts such as identity fraud
Identity fraud is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America. In 2019, over 14.4 million Americans became victims of identity fraud. Additional data also show that overall, 33% of adults in the United States have experienced identity fraud.
If someone’s gotten a hold of your birth certificate, you can quickly set up identity theft protection with Aura. They scan and monitor any time someone uses your personal information and they’ll help you recover from any identity theft.
In case you’ve already given out your birth certificate information, they’ll help you:
• Conduct 24/7 SSN Monitoring.
• Be Protected with a $1 million insurance coverage
• Get notified if your registered online accounts have been breached.
• Monitor & alert the dark web for people selling your personal information.
• Receive a personal case manager to help you recover from any identity theft problems.
There are different kinds of identity fraud that can be done using your birth certificate. Below are some examples.
1. Obtaining government IDs and documents
A birth certificate is usually called a “breeder document”, which is a document necessary to obtain other types of government IDs. An identity thief may then use your birth certificate to obtain government IDs like a driver’s license or social security card. They could also alter your original birth certificate to create counterfeit versions so they can get new IDs.
2. Fake proof of identity
It is also possible for identity thieves to use the birth certificate to support their identity. They can create fake IDs because they have your personal information and use these for illegal dealings. They can also use your birth certificate as an additional proof of identity to get verified on certain websites and platforms.
3. Using your personal details to get into your financial accounts
While an identity thief may not use the birth certificate as a standalone document, the thief can still use the information listed on the document to commit crimes. As your birth certificate contains critical personal information like your date and place of birth as well as the names of your parents, the fraudster can use this information to get into your bank accounts in phone verification processes. However, they would need to know additional info like your bank name and some additional details.
4. Using your personal details to get into your online accounts
Another way a fraudster can use a stolen birth certificate is to use your personal details to try to hack your online accounts like emails or social media profiles. These websites usually require the user to answer security questions and that usually includes hometown (place of birth), mother’s name, or date of birth. When the thieves are inside your email, they can use this to also hack your online financial accounts.
5. Using your personal details to create fake online profiles
An identity thief can also use your details to create a realistic-looking fake online profile. They can use this profile to scam people or even connect with your friends and family to extort money from them. This can be dangerous as you could be involved in criminal acts you may know nothing about.
Can Someone Else Get Your Birth Certificate Illegally?
You might be worried about whether it is easy for a person to request a copy of your birth certificate without your knowledge. Now, it is possible to request these documents online so it is but normal to wonder whether your documents are safe.
In the United States, government agencies usually have secure web portals so it is not that easy to hack into these systems to get a copy of birth certificates. There are also stringent requirements to obtain a copy of your birth certificate in the U.S.
Depending on the laws of the state where your birth certificate was filed, the requirements needed may vary to be issued a birth certificate. States may require two to three additional proof of identity and some states like California require a sworn statement notarized by a public notary. Other states only allow immediate family members to obtain the birth certificate on your behalf or may need a Power of Attorney to have it released.
This means that it is not an easy process to obtain a copy of your birth certificate unless the fraudster has these additional identification documents and details on hand. However, it is not impossible because if you lose your wallet for example, with all your IDs, that person can use these IDs to obtain a copy of your birth certificate.
What to Do if Your Birth Certificate Gets Lost or Stolen?
If you believe that your birth certificate was lost or stolen, you can request another copy of your birth certificate. You can go to your state’s vital records office to request a replacement document. As mentioned earlier, the requirements will differ depending on the state where your birth certificate was filed.
If you are worried about whether your lost or stolen birth certificate was used to steal your identity, one good way to check is to carefully review your credit report. Request a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com and check the entries one by one. Usually, fraudsters use your identity to commit financial crimes so if there are unfamiliar entries in your credit history, this could be a sign that you are a victim of identity theft.
Once you determine that your identity was stolen, you can go to the one-stop government website identitytheft.gov. This website outlines the step-by-step process of what you need to do to resolve the issue including reporting to the credit bureaus, reporting the fraud to companies involved, and even reporting to local authorities.
Keeping Your Birth Certificate Secure Means Keeping Yourself Safe
Your birth certificate is an important piece of document that contains critical information about you. In this day and age, your information can be used by fraudsters to commit illegal acts. It is thus essential for you to ensure your documents like birth certificates are secure so you can minimize the risk of identity theft.