The federal government is looking for ways to tighten up security on Indian status cards following reports fake IDs sell for as much as $5,000.

The cards are easy to forge.

When first issued 50 years ago, status cards were intended as simple identification. Now, they're used to get health care, tax exemptions, hunting rights and other services.

Indian and Northern Affairs rejected new cards a couple of years ago because the $10 million price tag for issuing replacements was seen as too expensive, says Terri Harrison, the federal department's director of registration.

Harrison says they're looking at new cards with a magnetic strip and other security features. But they won't be issued unless the provinces agree to pick up some of the cost.