Vital Statistics Agency helps identity theft victim

Authority Vital Statistics Agency, Ministry of Health

Steve requested a new birth certificate from his home province of Ontario in order to get a passport. He learned from the Ontario authorities that his name had been legally changed in British Columbia 20 years earlier. Steve had not lived in B.C. at that time and was unaware of the name change. He explained the situation to the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency as he wanted to have his birth name restored.

The Agency advised Steve that he would now have to apply for a legal change of name. He complained that having to undergo a criminal record check and pay fees for a name change was unfair when the original name change was fraudulent.

We investigated to ensure that the Agency had treated Steve fairly. We contacted the Agency and reviewed the current Name Act as well as the version of the Act that applied at the time of the name change. We agreed that the Agency did not have any authority to reverse the original name change other than through a further legal name change. The criminal record check was an express requirement under the Name Act and there did not appear to be any authority to waive it. As a result, our investigation focused on the fairness of requiring Steve to pay a fee to correct a fraudulent name change.

The Agency was satisfied that Steve was who he claimed to be and that he did not make the original name change application. As a result, the Agency offered to waive the legal name change application fee, but told us that the fingerprinting and criminal record check fees were not their fees to waive.

We reviewed copies of the records and forms related to the original name change process to see if there had been any error on the part of the Agency in accepting the application. A number of inconsistencies in that application caused us to question whether the application met the formal requirements of the Name Act as it read at the time, and whether the application should have been rejected as a result. We discussed those concerns with the Agency, who agreed as a result to compensate Steve for the additional fees required for him to change his name.

Category Other
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2010
Location Vancouver Island / Sunshine Coast