Identity crime now amongst most common crimes in Australia

[news release] The results of a community survey on identity crime by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) show that identity crime is now one of the more common crimes in Australia.The report, Identity crime and misuse in Australia, contains the results of a survey of 5,000 Australians on their experiences of identity crime and misuse which found:

  • almost 1 in 10 people experienced misuse of their personal information in the previous 12 months, and 1 in 5 people experienced misuse of their personal information at some point in their lives; and
  • 5% of people experienced identity crime or misuse resulting in a financial loss in the previous 12 months.

These results suggest identity crime directly affects around 1 million Australians each year and is one of the most common types of crime in Australia.Most people who reported financial losses as a result of identity crime, lost less than $1,000. But in some cases losses ran to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.The survey also revealed that victims of identity crime experienced other significant impacts such as: refusal of credit (14.1%), mental or emotional stress requiring counselling or other treatment (10.7%) and being wrongly accused of a crime (5.5%).The AIC’s research also found that almost 1 in 10 victims didn’t report the incident.I encourage anyone who has suffered identity crime to report their experiences to police or relevant privacy or consumer protection agencies. This makes it easier to provide support and to prevent similar instances in the future.The extent of deception and dishonesty revealed in this survey emphasises the importance of protecting your personal information, particularly online.People should ensure they have strong passwords on computers, effective privacy settings around social media, and take care when shopping online and disposing of hard copy mail containing personal information.The findings underscore the need for all Australian governments to work collaboratively with the private sector to implement the National Identity Security Strategy, including by expanding use of the Document Verification Service to combat the misuse of false and stolen identities.The AIC’s research was commissioned by the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.The Identity crime and misuse in Australia report is available at information on how to protect yourself from identity crime can be found at see:Helping business combat identity crime and streamline online services
I am pleased to announce that the Government’s electronic identity document verification service is now open for use by business.The Document Verification Service helps businesses protect themselves against identity crime and also makes it easier for business to meet regulatory obligations to verify customer identities.Recent research from the Australian Institute of Criminology shows that identity crime is one of the most common crime types in Australia.The Document Verification Service (DVS) allows businesses to verify information on driver licences, passports, visas and Medicare cards directly with the issuing agency.The system makes it easier for banks to detect money laundering using fake identities, and for mobile phone providers to check the identities of people purchasing pre-paid SIM cards, which can be used by criminals to mask their activities.Interest in the DVS amongst business has been strong, with over 160 businesses approved for use, and 19 businesses already connected and using the service.Opening the DVS to business is an important step in ensuring Australians can access government services online and growing Australia’s digital economy. It is also part of the Government’s efforts to reduce the red tape burden on business.The service provides secure and automatic verifications in real-time. It also allows businesses to streamline processes, and help reduce costs to interact with customers securely.Privacy considerations are at the forefront of the DVS design. The system is not a database and does not store any personal information. All DVS checks must be done with the informed consent of the person involved.The DVS demonstrates that privacy and security need not be mutually exclusive and in many cases they can and should be mutually supportive.The DVS is a collaborative initiative between the Commonwealth, states and territories under the National Identity Security Strategy.Further information on the DVS can be found at

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