Govt to release report on identity theft

Federal and state governments are working on new laws which will help victims of identity theft re-establish their credit histories.

Federal Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus says he will release a report this week which tracks the nature, impact, extent and cost of identity crime, as well as the responses of other countries to the problem.

“Identity crime is an international problem and while the true extent of it is unknown, a few years ago it was estimated to cost Australian business more than $1 billion a year, a figure which has no doubt grown,” Mr Debus said in a statement.

The report also analyses the current law in Australia and concludes there are some gaps in the current offences.

It will recommend the creation of three new identity crime offences.

Mr Debus says identity crime can involve the illegal use of a person’s credit card details to make purchases over the internet or telephone, the assumption of another person’s entire identity to open bank accounts, take out loans and conduct their business illegally in that name.

Victims often were not aware identity crime had even occurred until they were called by creditors about defaulted loan repayments.

“Individual victims spend an average of two or more years attempting to restore their credit ratings,” Mr Debus said.

“I’ll be recommending that all jurisdictions be empowered to issue certificates to reclaim their identity after a prosecution has occurred or if they become aware their identity’s been stolen.”

The report will be released at this week’s standing committee of attorneys-general.

Florida Shredding