Monday, March 08, 2010

Puerto Rico set to invalidate all birth certificates due to fraud

"It turns out that in December, the Puerto Rican government passed an unusual law that will invalidate, as of July 1, all birth certificates in existence for people born in Puerto Rico. The goal was to prevent fraud and identity theft. But neither the law nor the reasons behind it were well-publicized, and many Puerto Ricans learned only last week, from news accounts, that they will have to apply for valid birth certificates.

"I’m going to try to do it as soon as possible," Wilfredo Rodriguez, 63, of Elizabeth, said Wednesday between spoonfuls of chicken soup. "I’m retired, so I need it for medical issues ... But I don’t see the real need for it (the change)."

The reason for the change, according to the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration, is rampant fraud involving stolen Puerto Rican birth certificates. The new ones being issued will use technology designed to prevent forgery, the government says.

Puerto Rican birth certificates have been involved in 40 percent of the 8,000 cases of passport fraud investigated by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, according to a copy of the law passed by the Puerto Rican Senate. Stolen birth certificates, sold on the black market for up to $10,000, have been used to illegally obtain passports and other government documents, according to the government."

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