Plastic birth certificates are far from fake

As technology evolves, paper and ink documents are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. It’s happening across all industries and forms of identification – already, there are smartphone apps capable of acting as a verifiable ID card. Additionally, e-signature technology allows users to sign important documents without an actual pen and, more importantly, without having to send it through the mail and risk it getting lost.

Now, there is another form of ID that is primed for an upgrade – but it isn’t through smart technology or the Internet. Rather, developments in polymer research can apply to birth certificates to improve security, durability and verification, according to a recent press release from the Office of the Premier in Ontario, Canada. By making the certificates higher quality and more difficult to reproduce, Ontario officials hope to reduce instances of fraud and identity theft. The first batch of polymer-based birth certificates will be available beginning April 15.

“Polymer birth certificates are durable enough to last a lifetime.”

Polymer birth certificates will provide a welcome upgrade
Birth certificates are often a necessary ID – a means of obtaining other important documents and identification. So it stands to reason – especially with the ever-present threat of identity theft – that Ontario has taken measures to improve its methods. According to City News, the Canadian province believes these new IDs will be a welcome improvement over the old, paper-based products.

“As technology evolves, we want to make sure that the government evolves with it,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said at a news conference, as quoted by the news source. “And we’ve learned from experiences of other provinces and territories that paper birth certificates are due for an update.”

Some of the advantages the polymer-based ID will have over the paper-and-ink certificate include raised print, translucent windows and print that shifts color with different angles and light. The cards are also larger than the previous versions, which could fit inside a wallet – officials say these cards are best left at home. Not only that, but these polymer IDs are durable enough to last a lifetime with proper use.

Birth certificates are due for an upgrade.
Birth certificates are due for an upgrade.

New security measures should cut down on identity theft
Criminals who specialize in stealing other people’s social security numbers, passwords, account information and other personal information are growing increasingly bold. A recent statement from the FBI maintained that infants and children’s birth certificates are a growing favorite among identity thieves for their non-existent credit history and lack of traceable expenditures, according to the Gaylord Herald Times. If left unchecked, stolen infant identities may remain undetected for years.

According to the 2012 Child Identity Fraud report, 1 in 40 homes with a person under the age of 18 will undergo some type of child identity fraud within that child’s lifetime. With the new polymer-based certificate, it will be more difficult for thieves to access brand new infant identities.

It remains to be seen how these efforts will impact the rates of identity fraud, but it stands to reason that the effect could be drastic. In any case, it’s a step in the right direction. As with all new polymer solutions – especially ones that have an entire identity involved – a certified, independent testing laboratory should verify that the material is sufficiently safe and strong.