With rapidly advancing technological change, increasing business reliance on personal identity details and the growth in transient population movement, theft of personal information is becoming increasingly prevalent. As a direct result, over the past few years there has been an increased incidence of identity crime.
Identity crime generates significant profits for offenders and causes considerable financial losses to the Australian Government, private industry and individuals.
“Identity crime” covers a number areas and events. Standard definitions include:
• Identity – the identity of natural persons and/or bodies corporate;
• Identity fabrication – the creation of a “fictitious” identity;
• Identity manipulation – the alteration of one’s own identity;
• Identity theft – the theft or assumption of a pre-existing identity (with or without consent); and
• Identity crime – activities in which a perpetrator uses a fabricated identity; a manipulated identity; or a stolen/assumed identity to facilitate the commission of crime.
Recent estimates by the federal Attorney-General’s Department indicate that identity crime costs Australia upwards of $1.6 billion per annum, with the majority (around $900m) lost by individuals through credit card fraud, identity theft and scams, and identified that:
• Approximately 5% (920,500) of all Australians over the previous 12 months had experienced some form of identity theft and misuse resulting in a financial cost;
• 18 hours on average, was spent by each victim in response to identity theft; and
• Average losses per incident of identity theft were $5,741.82.
The business impacts of identity crime can be far reaching. Not only is there an obvious financial cost, but indirect costs from disruption of day-today trading, onerous time commitments in resolving the matter, along with increased risk from adverse customer perception and potential damage to reputation add to the loss.
So what can be done? Alongside reporting a suspected identity theft incident to the police, there is an additional point of support – iDcare.
iDcare – Identity Care Australia & New Zealand Ltd – is a joint publicprivate partnership and membership based organisation that supports the victims of identity theft and misuse, offering personalised support to individuals that are concerned about their personal information. iDcare works with government and industry to independently assess capacity to respond to contemporary and emerging identity theft and misuse risks – whether physical or online.
Whilst identity crime can have a devastating effect, help is at hand. iDcare can be contacted on 1300 432 273.
Stephen is a Director at Vincents Chartered Accountants and provides specialist advice in the areas of corporate and government fraud investigation, anti-bribery and corruption compliance and remedial fraud risk assessment. For more information, contact Vincents, Level 7, AMP Tower, 1 Hobart Pl, Canberra City. T: 6274 3400 F: 6274 3499 E: [email protected] W: www.vincents.com.au