My Birth Certificate Was Stolen – What Can Someone Do With It?

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You know that your birth certificate is an important piece of document. But what if you lose it or misplace it?

The personal details on your birth certificate can be used to commit identity theft, but you might not be aware of the extent of crimes other people could commit using your information.

We’ll share how to stop anyone from further using the information from your birth certificate. Acting fast can help prevent fraud attempts.

Our team reviewed the latest updates on ID theft and cyber threats because they continue to evolve. We also checked the official sites of authorities and experts and gathered the best tips for protecting yourself when your birth certificate has been lost, stolen, or exposed.

Know the most important sign or clue that someone is using your information. Keep reading to avoid missing even one sign that someone is using your identity. 

Often, ID theft victims don't realize that someone stole their ID until the damage has been done.

What can someone do with your birth certificate?

It contains essential information, such as your name, birth date, and place of birth. It also includes your parents’ names, addresses, birthdates, and occupations.

Aside from the information in it, why is a birth certificate important?

It authenticates your identity and nationality. The document allows you to access social and healthcare services, open bank accounts, and apply for essential IDs.

So can someone steal your identity with your birth certificate? Yes, and we’ll share what criminals can do with such a sensitive document.

1. Get government IDs

Since a birth certificate confirms your age and citizenship, government agencies require it to issue IDs and documents, such as:

  • Social Security Card
  • Driver’s license
  • Passport

So when scammers have your birth certificate, they can alter it to get new IDs. But what happens when they obtain new IDs?

They can receive state benefits, tax refunds, and access healthcare services under your name. Unfortunately, they can carry out these fraudulent acts without you knowing. You’ll only realize it when you can’t claim your refunds or benefits.

2. Use as a supporting document

Criminals don’t stop by creating fake IDs. They may also present your birth certificate to support their phony identity.

So when an agency asks for a supplementary document, they may show your counterfeit birth certificate. Generally, departments accept birth certificates to verify identities, and scammers take advantage of this.

For example, if the Internal Revenue Service audits a claim for a credit, one of the papers it requests is a birth certificate. It applies to the following:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)
  • Premium Tax Credit (PTC)
  • American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)

When scammers get a hold of your birth certificate, they can receive tax credit and other benefits under your name.

3. Access your financial accounts

Criminals steal your identity primarily because they want your money. Although they may not directly use your birth certificate to get your cash, they can use the details listed on the document to access your financial accounts.

We searched for common bank account verification questions, and here’s a list of what we found:

  • What’s your full name?
  • What’s your mother’s maiden name?
  • What’s your father’s name?
  • What’s the last four digits of your bank account number?
  • What’s your Social Security Number (SSN)?

They can find the answers to the first three questions on your birth certificate, but they need other sources for your bank account number and SSN. Still, the document gives them an entry into your finances.

Gary Hemming of ABC Finance said that the most important clue that someone is using your information is a credit search that you don’t recognize. According to him, you can check for unusual credit searches and contact the person who conducted them to stop identity thieves before they have a chance to do damage.

4. Open your online accounts

Fraudsters can also use the information on your birth certificate to answer security questions. Some websites may ask for your mother’s maiden name or father’s occupation.

Since your birth certificate shows these details, hackers will use it to hack your email. But it’s not only your email that’s at risk.

Here’s how their tactics work:

  • Identity thieves will hack your email account.
  • They’ll see the accounts linked to your email address.
  • They’ll search for useful ones, such as mobile banking, online shops, and social media accounts.
  • Scammers will now hack the said accounts to steal your money and make fraudulent purchases.

They can request a password reset and get the verification code because they have access to your email.

5. Create fake online profiles

Once scammers know your basic information, they can create fake social media accounts.

Next, they’ll contact your friends and families to ask for money. They might also scam others using your identity to offer investments and products. Since your friends think it’s your real account, they’ll most likely transfer funds to the scammer.

As a result, you’ll be involved in a crime you know nothing about. It might even affect your reputation, especially to people unaware that someone stole your identity.

What to do if your birth certificate gets lost or stolen?

No one wants to lose such an important document, but we’ll tell you how to respond to stolen birth certificates if it happens to you.

1. Report lost birth certificate

Identity thieves can use your birth certificate for malicious purposes, so it’s crucial to report the incident immediately.

If you file a report, authorities will take note of the date from which the document was stolen or lost. You can use it as proof in case someone attempts identity fraud using your birth certificate.

Police station

You should inform the local police about the lost certificate. You might need to present the following:

  • Valid ID
  • Proof of address

The police will inquire about the exact date your birth certificate was lost or stolen. This way, the officers can write an accurate report regarding your complaint.

State Vital Records Office

A Vital Records Office is a government institution that issues, protects, and amends copies of vital records, including birth certificates. So it’s only proper to report stolen birth certificates to them.

Each state has a different office; you can view their address on the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) website.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

You can also report to the FTC by calling 1-877-382-4357.

We visited IdentityTheft.gov and discovered that there’s no category for a lost birth certificate. When we clicked “Get Started” and chose “Someone has my information and tried to use it,” the website only showed us these options:

  • SSN or EIN
  • Online login or password
  • Bank account information
  • Debit or credit card information
  • Children’s personal information

But you can still contact the agency to set a stolen birth certificate alert. Your report will be more credible in case someone uses the document.

2. Get a replacement

Since you no longer have your birth certificate, you must request it from your state’s Vital Records Office.

Every office has varying requirements, but here’s a list of the general things to include in your letter:

  • Copy of a valid photo ID (passport, state ID, driver’s license)
  • Signature

Can you get other people's birth certificates?

Yes, direct family members, as well as third parties with interest or court orders may request the document.

Also, take note that each state collects a different amount for the certificate. For example, Florida’s Vital Records Office requires $9 per copy, while you need to pay $29 per copy in California.

How to keep your birth certificate safe?

Your birth certificate contains personal information, so we recommend taking extra measures to keep it secure.

1. Make physical copies

There’s a higher chance of losing your records when you always take them out of the cabinet. Copies can also help you preserve the original. So when an agency or company accepts a photocopy, you can avoid using or losing the original record.

2. Label vital documents

Organize your documents to lessen the chance of losing them. It will also help you in the future when you need to access your paperwork.

3. Use plastic bags

If you can only put your certificate in a cabinet, you can use clear plastic bags to protect it. Make sure to choose a clear one, so it’s easy to tell where your documents are.

4. Place inside acid-free folders

Did you know that some folders have chemicals that can ruin your certificate instead of protecting it? Here’s our solution: use acid-free file folders that you can label.

5. Store it in a safe

Most people put their essential documents in a random cabinet inside their homes. But it’s not the proper way to keep your certificate.

You should store it in a fireproof and waterproof safe. This way, you can protect your documents from natural disasters.

When would you need to present a birth certificate?

Your birth certificate has many uses because it proves your identity. Here are some instances when you need it.

  1. Most states require a birth certificate when you apply for a driver’s license. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) verifies your identity and ensures no other person is getting a license under your name.
  2. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will also ask for your birth certificate if you need to replace your Social Security card. Like the DMV, SSA wants to confirm that it’s really you who’s requesting a replacement.
  3. Aside from records of grades, schools also ask for your birth certificate to check the student’s age. It helps universities ensure that students are applying for the right year level.
  4. The Department of State lists birth certificates as one of the requirements to get a passport. So when you’re planning to take a trip abroad, you must apply for a passport by submitting your certificate along with other IDs and documents.
  5. Certain states also require your birth certificate when applying for a marriage license. It allows the authorities to verify your identity before getting married.
  6. The SSA may also ask for your birth certificate when you claim retirement benefits. This action enables the administration to confirm your age.

Protect your birth certificate from identity thieves

Criminals can use your certificate to get government IDs, access your financial accounts, open your online accounts, and create fake profiles. So we recommend keeping it in a secure place and making physical copies.

Securing your birth certificate lessens the risk of identity theft and other fraud.

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