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.
Attorney-General for Australia & Minister for the Arts Senator the Hon George Brandis said, “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 www.aic.gov.au.
Further information on how to protect yourself from identity crime can be found at www.ag.gov.au/identitysecurity.