State Vital Records Office Cautions Document Theft Causes BIG Problems

DENVER — The Vital Records Office at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment today cautioned Colorado parents to guard against identity theft when providing their children’s birth certificates for school and sports registration.

“It’s fine to show the school or coach the original, but make sure it’s only a copy that you leave behind,” said Fraud Prevention Manager Joel Wade. Wade said copies left with youth sports officials should have the mother’s maiden name marked out, for security purposes. “We’ve seen too many cases where a folder full of official birth certificates is stolen from a coach’s minivan,” he said.

Official copies of birth certificates are known as “breeder documents,” because they can be used to obtain a driver’s license or passport, open a bank account, order credit cards, get access to existing credit cards and apply for government benefits. Once a thief adopts someone’s identity and commits a crime, Wade said, the victim could spend the rest of his life trying to clear his name.

Colorado birth certificates fetch a high price on the black market. Identity theft, the fastest growing crime in the nation, is prevalent in college towns and along the Front Range. Colorado ranked fifth in the nation for identity theft in 2003, and fell to 11th in 2011.

“I just want to help push our state further down in the charts,” Wade said. “You should never carry your birth certificate or social security card in your wallet, purse or briefcase. Transport them only when they are needed, and lock them up afterward. For about $30 a year, you can store those documents in a safe deposit box in a bank or credit union, where they’re safe but still available.”

Wade said burglars often pass up items such as flat screen TVs to rifle through home files in search of personal documents, which are more valuable on the black market. Home safes can be hauled away by thieves and are effective only if they’re bolted to a home’s foundation.

“If your birth certificate is stolen,” Wade said, “report it to the Vital Records Office as soon as possible so protective measures can be taken.” Wade said the public should deal directly with the Vital Records Office when ordering copies of official records in Colorado and avoid unscrupulous online companies that charge excessive fees.

 Official records can be obtained at the Vital Records Office at 4300 Cherry Creek Dr. S. or ordered online at:


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