Identity Theft Is Costing Australia $1.6 Billion

Photo: Getty/Sandy Huffaker

Identity crime has become one of the most common, costly and disturbing crimes in Australia, according to federal government analysis.

The total economic impact of identity crime to the economy is estimated at more than $1.6 billion each year.

And the use of fraudulent identities continues to be a key enabler of serious, organised crime and terrorism.

In 2011-12 more Australians reported being a victim of identity crime than victims of robbery, motor vehicle theft, household break-ins or assault.

New figures in a government report released today show that each year between 750,000 to 900,000 people fall victim to identity crime resulting in financial loss.

The report compiles data and information from 54 different Commonwealth, state and territory agencies, as well as the private sector.

Key findings:

  • The majority of identity crime is classified as credit card fraud and most victims lose less than $1,000.
  • The total value of credit card fraud was being driven upwards by card-not-present fraud where a transaction is made using only the credit card details and not the physical card. In 2005-06 there were more than $13 million worth of these frauds, but in 2012-13 that had reached more than $82 million.
  • About 1 in 10 identity crime victims experiences mental or physical health issues requiring treatment and around one in 17 is wrongly accused of a crime.
  • Intelligence from the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade indicate that fraudulent identity documents can be purchased on the black market for as little as $80 for a Medicare card, a few hundred dollars for a birth certificate or drivers licence and as much as $30,000 for a “genuinely” issued passport with fraudulent details.
  • Of the 40,000 fraud offences proven each year in Australia, around 15,000 were enabled through the use of stolen or fabricated identities. There are also about 7,000 core identity crime offences proven each year, including activities such as manufacturing fraudulent credentials and false representations.

NOW READ: Australian Passports Are Worth A Fortune On The Black Market And Around 9000 Go Missing Abroad Each Year

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