Protecting Mr and Mrs Average from ID Fraud
Every Australian is at risk of identity theft, and the government’s expansion of laws may help to put a price on what has been up to now a lucrative, faceless crime resulting in innocent people ripped off, and left with an uncertain financial future, a credit rating repairer says.
MyCRA Credit Repairs CEO, Graham Doessel says improvements to identity fraud laws through the Crime Bill, passed by the Government on Wednesday are long overdue to increase protection to Australians for what is now termed “the fastest growing crime in Australia.”[i]
“This is more than just basic credit card skimming or accessing bank accounts. Identity fraud comes about when a person’s good name has been misused, and that generally means fraudsters have been able to open credit accounts in their victim’s names – leaving the victim in debt and usually with a string of defaults against their name,” Mr Doessel says.
The Australian Crime Commission’s CEO, John Lawler revealed at a national conference for credit professionals in September that identity crime is a “key facilitator” for organised crime groups because it is an anonymous crime which can facilitate significant fraud.
“Every single person in this room and the various sectors and organisations that you represent are targets for organised crime,” he told the Conference.[ii]
“Criminals will exploit technology to not only carry out new crimes but commit traditional crimes on a much larger scale.”
The ACC estimates organised crime is currently costing the Australian economy at least $15 billion per annum – and that the impacts of this are significant and growing.
Mr Lawler says the amount of personal information requested, stored and shared online provides organised crime with a larger pool of victims and data to harvest.
“Organised criminals seek to conduct significant research on their intended victims and tailoring their operations to target weaknesses,” he says.
Mr Doessel says this means when fraudsters ‘get someone’ with identity fraud the victim can have their life turned upside down.
“Recovering from identity fraud is never an easy task. Creditors need proof the victim didn’t initiate the credit. But many people don’t know how the fraud eventuated, and even if they do there’s no guarantee they can recover their good credit rating,” he says.
He welcomes increases to penalty units within the Crimes Act from $110 to $170, their first increase in 15 years.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the change would mean a person dealing in the proceeds of crime would see their fine rise from $165,000 to $255,000.[iii]
The Age reported yesterday that the changes could see those people who use a carriage service like the internet or a mobile phone to obtain identity information with the intention of committing another offence could be sentenced to five years in jail.[iv]
The crime of identity fraud has also expanded to include a number of activities such as flying interstate or booking domestic flights online using a fake identity.
Mr Doessel says prevention is always better than the cure when it comes to identity fraud.
“Australians need to understand that their personal information is a valuable commodity and should look at where it might be at risk of misuse. Keep your computer protected, don’t give your personal information to anyone who doesn’t need it and cross-shred all personally identifiable documents at home rather than throwing them straight in the rubbish,” he says.
“Fraudsters are even going through rubbish bins to find what they need. So last month’s bank statement could be the missing link fraudsters needed to set up new accounts in your name.”
He says if people worry they may be vulnerable to identity theft they should check their bank and credit card statements thoroughly and should also order a copy of their credit report – which would indicate if their credit file had been misused.
“Contact Police immediately and also alert your Creditors and the Credit Reporting Agencies which hold your credit file if you are at all suspicious of identity theft before it leads to fraud,” he says.
Victims can also use the services of a credit rating repairer to recover their good name following identity theft.
Graham Doessel – Director Ph 07 3124 7133
Lisa Brewster – Media Relations firstname.lastname@example.org
246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld
MyCRA Credit Repairs is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.
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