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Fraud and Identity Theft

Fraud and Identity Theft

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 08/2003 by Roza Lozusic
Fraud is reportedly one of the fastest growing crimes in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, the estimated cost of fraud to Australia is in excess of $5 billion a year, which represents almost a third of the total cost of crime in Australia ($19 billion).

Identity fraud, in particular, where identities are stolen or fictitious identities are created, is becoming an increasing problem due to emerging (and rapidly evolving) technologies which enable such crimes to be committed. Not only does identity fraud pose a significant financial cost to the community (with estimates ranging from $2 billion to $3.5 billion a year) but it impacts significantly on: victims (whose identities have been stolen); financial and other institutions; and law enforcement agencies because of the difficulty in tackling such crime, and because identity fraud facilitates the commission of other types of crime such as people smuggling.

Section 2 of this paper deals with the subject of fraud in general, including the definition of fraud and identity fraud, the types of fraud, perpetrators of fraud, and the magnitude of fraud in Australia. This latter area incorporates the latest figures from the KPMG Fraud Survey 2002. (pp 2-11)

Section 3 deals with identity fraud. It includes a discussion of factors that influence identity fraud, how it is perpetrated, and the magnitude of the problem in Australia as well as examples of identity fraud and theft. (pp 11-17)

Section 4 outlines briefly some of the crime statistics in this area. (p18) Appendix A contains tables of crimes statistics referred to in section 4.

Section 5 looks at legislative and other responses to the problem of fraud. It outlines NSW, Federal and other responses. (pp 19-28)

Section 6 outlines some of the law enforcement initiatives in this area by: the New South Wales Police; the New South Wales Crime Commission; and the Australian Federal Police.

Finally, Section 7 contains a range of private sector views and responses to the issue of fraud and identity fraud. (pp 32-39)