New Alberta birth certificate designed to thwart identify theft

A new birth certificate too big to carry in a wallet is designed to protect Albertans from fraud and identity theft, touted provincial officials.

A new birth certificate too big to carry in a wallet is designed to protect Albertans from fraud and identity theft,touted provincial officials.

On Monday, the province unveiled the new "high-security" document that is embedded with 24 security features already found in Alberta driver's licences and Canadian passports.

"Anyone familiar with identity theft or fraud will tell you that a birth certificate is a good foundation document to build a false identity," Service Alberta Minister Lloyd Snelgrove said.

"With this new design, we hope to make it too hard to use an Alberta birth certificate to commit such crimes."

It isnot mandatory to get a new one, butthe provinceis encouragingpeople do so and destroy their old certificate or store it in a secure place such as a safety deposit box.

The new birthcertificate is made of polymer material and has been resized to make it difficult to carry in a purse or wallet, whereexperts in identify theft say the valuable document should not be kept.

The current version, which was designed in the early 1980s, has only nine security features, said officials.

New or replacement birth certificates can be ordered through any Alberta registry agent office starting Feb. 1, 2008, for $20 plus the registry agent fee.

The new birth certificate was developed by the Vital Statistics Council for Canada and the Canadian Bank Note Company, which also prints passports and Canada's paper money.