One in every six Australians has been a victim or knows someone who has been a victim of identity theft. This is the findings of an online research released by Di Marzio Research in July 2011, which polled 1,200 respondents. The survey would be among the information that would be used for the development of a proposed National Identity Security Strategy.
Identity theft and misuse is currently among the biggest concerns of consumers across the country. This is because as technology continues to evolve, more and more people undertake business and purchase transactions online. Needless to say, the risk of identity theft continues to rise.
During the first half of 2011 alone, the Computer Emergency Response Team had reported more than 250,000 unique cases of stolen personal information online such as account details and passwords. Numerous local businesses have already been alerted and advised to take necessary security measures for protection not just of their operations but also of the welfare of their customers.
Dissecting the identity theft problem
Since 2005, it is estimated that identity theft and related fraud in the country costs more than $2.2 billion every year. Identity crime has been identified as a key factor for many other types of crimes, which the Organised Crime Threat Assessment classifies as ‘organised crimes.’ Annually, such organised crimes cost more than $15 billion.
According to experts, identity theft and misuse happens over the Internet 58% of the time. Loss of credit or debit card accounts for 30% of reported identity theft cases. Stolen identity information is being used by thieves to buy products or services (55%) or to obtain loan, credit, or finance (26%).
Stealing the identity of another person is now the most common form of credit fraud. When thieves access your personal and credit information, they might use it to get credit for themselves. Thus, as a victim, you could be left with liabilities or debts, which could destroy your reputation and your clean credit history.
Misuse of stolen or false identities also underpins criminal and terrorist activities. Governments are now mandated to verify identities of people accessing government services, documents, benefits, and positions of trust.
Identity security has unsurprisingly become the core of the Federal Government’s law enforcement, economic, and security initiatives. It has become vital to protection of Australians from identity theft and misuse. The Australian Government is all the more improving identity security, fighting identity crimes, and protecting identities of Australians against the possibility of being used for fraudulent or illegal purposes.
Current initiatives are set to attain goals to protect citizens against identity theft and misuse. The National Identity Security Strategy aims to prevent misuse of assumed or stolen identities in provision of all government services. The National Document Verification Service establishes a secured online and electronic system for protection of identities.
Advice to consumers:
The Government and experts advise people to take simple initiatives to help protect their own identities. When using the Internet, use access control and strong passwords. Restrict personal information posted on Internet sites, especially social networks. Do transactions only with secured Websites. Lastly, do not instantly click links or open suspicious attachments from people you may or may not know.
Identity security should always be treated as a shared responsibility. Public and private sectors must continue working hand-in-hand to help consumers’ identities safer online as well as offline. It is always better to avoid being a victim of identity theft and misuse than to deal with credit repair when thieves use your accounts to incur debts.
Clean Credit Pty Ltd