A General Accounting Office report released Wednesday shows just how simple it is to breach the security of U.S. borders and government buildings:
“Security: Counterfeit Identification Raises Homeland Security Concerns,” GAO 04-133-T, released Oct. 1, 2003 (PDF file; you can find it on the GAO site at www.gao.gov)
Scary bits: undercover investigators used off-the-shelf software to create fake identities, complete with fake birth certificates. Alternatively, they used real birth certificates, which are public record in some places (making sure not to duplicate living people by cross-referencing with the Social Security Death Index, which is also publicly available). They then used the fake documents, or real documents obtained fraudulently by presenting the fake documents, to enter the U.S. without a passport from neighboring countries, purchase firearms (the instant background check will only pick up criminal convictions and other events that would keep a person from legally purchasing a firearm; people who have been dead for decades, or who have no negative history, won’t pop up), and obtain fake law enforcement building passes to enter government buildings. Details are in the report.
How can this type of fraud be prevented, or at least minimized? At what point does something like a national I.D. card, or at the very least a standard, nationwide (or even 50 different statewide) birth certificate format(s) start to be a good idea?