Protecting Your Child's Identity

Your Child’s Identity: Should You Be Worried About Sharing Their Birth Certificate?

One of the biggest worries on many people’s minds today is identity theft. The media warns consumers to use care when providing their Social Security Number and there have been many recent stories about information being stolen through leaks in the credit card processing system at retailers. Because identity theft is such a hot topic right now, you may begin to wonder if you should do anything to protect your child’s identity —specifically, in regards to his or her birth certificate.

Every time you turn around, it seems like one organization or another asks for proof of identity and age for your child. Schools, sports teams, scout troops and even church activities may want you to provide proof that your child is the age that you claim. While most of these requests are completely legitimate and do not put your child’s information in danger, it never hurts to use care when ordering and sharing this important document.

Keep these tips in mind when requesting and sharing your child’s birth certificate:

  • When ordering a birth certificate, online or in person, make sure you order from a legitimate source – either directly from the government agency issuing the certificate, or an organization they recommend. Check out the credentials of the company you order birth certificates from and be sure that they are official, government-issued certificates.
  • Anytime you complete an online transaction involving personal information, make sure the website is secure. You do not want information transferred through the internet to be accessible by others.
  • If you need to mail a birth certificate for any reason, make sure you use a safer method of shipping. You may want to choose insured or registered mail, or express courier (such as UPS or FedEx). That way you are certain the certificate reaches its destination.
  • Along the same lines, be very cautious if you fax or email a copy of your child’s birth certificate. Use only a secure service and make sure the recipient handles the information carefully as well.
  • For the sake of security and your child’s identity, be cautious when allowing anyone to make a copy of your child’s birth certificate. Make sure the copy is marked as a copy, so no one can attempt to pass it off as an original down the road. Original or official, certified copies will have an appropriate seal (raised, stamped, embossed or similar) which won’t be on a photocopy.
  • Use care when storing birth certificates. Consider keeping your copy in a safe deposit box or in a safe and secure place in your home. You do not want just anyone to have access to your child’s birth certificate and other sensitive information.

By following these tips and your intuition when it comes to sharing your child’s birth certificate and other information, you will keep his or her information safe now—and prevent major hassles in the future.

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