Protecting Divorce Records
Identity theft is a growing problem in the United States these days and the theft of marriage and divorce records is part of the problem. Once a thief has access to a person’s marital records it can open the door for ongoing fraud and even though obtaining vital records illegally is a felony in most jurisdictions, it does not stop determined thieves. The situation has led some states to change their regulations to require photo identification for all vital records requests in an effort to clamp down on identity theft.
Such is the case in Missouri, where the state health department has adopted new guidelines for obtaining copies of birth, death, marriage and divorce records. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will soon require photo identification from people requesting vital records to help protect against identity theft. Beginning on March 1, Missourians who want to get birth, death, marriage and divorce records will have to show a photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, or school, work or military identification. Those lacking a photo ID will have to provide two alternate forms of identification that include the applicant’s name and the name of the company or organization issuing the document.
The system will be flexible enough to handle other types of records requests as well. Any requests for vital records by mail will have to be notarized before it is mailed to the health department. Payment for mailed requests will have to be made by personal check or money order only. Any online requests for records can be paid by credit card on the state health department’s website. The document fees in Missouri are reasonable and reflective of similar rates in other jurisdictions around the country. Birth, marriage and divorce records cost $15 per record copy and a death record is $13 at most local health departments.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services guidelines will offer a higher degree of protection for documents that contain personal information and prevent problems resulting from identity theft. The new policy makes sense and will likely be adopted in other jurisdictions that do not require photo ID for records requests at present.