Survey Reveals The Crippling Cost Of Online Identity Fraud In Australia

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Online identity crime affects all sectors in Australia and costs Australians millions of dollars every year.

Senator George Brandis today announced the results of a national identity fraud survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology at technology conference CeBIT in Sydney.

“Identity crime is now one of the most prevalent types of crime,” Brandis said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics research conducted in 2012 shows over 700,000 Australians, or about 4 per cent of the population over 15 years old, were affected by identity fraud between 2010-11.

Surveying 5000 people the AIC also found identity crime and misuse impacts a huge amount of Australians.

In the previous 12 months 9.4 per cent of respondents said they had suffered the theft or personal misuse of their information.

One in five people reported misuse of information to their knowledge at some time during their life.

Five per cent of respondents incurred financial losses as a result of identity crime with the average loss being over $4000 per incident. The range of financial loss was from $1 to over $300,000.

Brandis said the findings “should be a call to action for all of us”.

“They’re also a reminder of the importance of maintaining appropriate security in the online world which Australians are spending an increasing amount of their time,” he said.

“But it’s becoming increasingly accepted that traditional approaches to managing identities online are, to put it bluntly, broken.”

Using the example of having to remember multiple passwords, Brandis said research conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in 2013 found the average Australian has between 5 and 50 different login and password combinations to manage their online activities.

“Not only are passwords open to exploitation by criminals, they are increasingly inefficient,” he said.

“It’s been estimated that password problems take up between 20 and 30 per cent of all IT service desk calls. And that the annual cost of password resets alone is around $1 billion globally.

“So there is significant scope for savings – for business, government and our customers – if we can improve our management of online identities.”

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