Identity Crime

Overview & Impact

Identity crime is a term used to describe activities and related offences that take place using a false or fabricated identity; a
manipulated identity or a stolen/assumed identity to facilitate the commission of a crime.

Identity crime includes:

  • the theft of personal identity information and related financial information 
  • assuming another identity for fraudulent purposes
  • producing false identities and financial documents to enable other crimes.

 What is Identity Crime?

Identity fraud is the use of the harvested data and the stolen identity to commit crimes such as opening bank accounts to launder illicit monies, applying for credit in another’s name, stealing from genuine bank accounts and use in scams or other crimes.

Both physical documents (such as driver licence, passports, bank statements) and digital artefacts (access to social media and networking sites, business & private emails, property & banking data) are at risk of being stolen or dishonestly accessed.

How does it happen?

Identity thieves are ingenious when it comes to stealing data. Increasingly they use psychological triggers to create a sense of panic or alarm tricking people into giving away information. The anonymity of the internet and shift to non-face to face contact has created in many cases a false sense of consumer trust to believe everything they are sent or requested to action. For example:

  • “Phishing” emails designed to appear to be from a legitimate source (such as a bank or government body) asking people to input or update personal information to a web site are used extensively by criminals to steal information.
  • Similar emails can contain links that infect computers with software which can unobtrusively transmit data back to a central point for criminals to collect. This is referred to as Malware (malicious software).
  • Data breaches can be a source of information for criminals to gather personal ID data.
  • These breaches can occur at any organisation where personal information is collected, used and stored.
  • Rogue or careless employees of these organisations can deliberately or unwittingly release sensitive information
  • Physical theft of data and documents from business and private premises that fail to secure letterboxes.
  • Unsecured social networking sites, false websites offering employment or other services and the offer of fake prizes in online competitions are some of the avenues used to harvest personal identity data.
  • Brute force attacks can also expose personal data later used by criminals.

All or a combination of the following steps can form useful information for customers who have fallen victim to Identity Crime


Your passwords - On your email, social media accounts, online bank log-in, and computer/mobile device log-in. In some cases, you will also need to change your email address and close your old account.


Even if not all your accounts have been affected it is worth flagging the fact that you have been a victim of identity fraud to other
lenders, banks etc. so they can monitor your accounts more closely and ensure that the thieves do not gain access to these as well.


If you have had your wallet or purse stolen, or if your personal information has been compromised, contact your financial service and credit card providers immediately to cancel any cards.


Contact a credit reference agency and follow their suggested steps to resolve the situation and prevent it happening again. If you do discover transactions on statements or have loans or other financial products taken out in your name which you did not make, contact the provider immediately. Place an alert on your credit file to flag any future fraudulent attempts to obtain finance.


Report the incident to the police. Report all lost or stolen documents, such as passports, driving licences, plastic cards to the
relevant organisation. You can also report the event online via


If you have been a victim of identity theft, you may be eligible for a Victim’s Certificate. Some financial institutions following an
investigation into a complaint will provide consumers with a certificate advising the persons status as an innocent victim of ID theft.



How was your information compromised? If you believe there has been a leak at a Telco, another financial institution or
government department of your details you can to lodge a privacy complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.



Keep all documentary evidence of fraud. Take notes, keep copies and police reports, get confirmation of conversations and actions
in writing. Never send originals away in the mail – if documents are required by someone else, send photocopies.



Protect yourself moving forward. Take the necessary steps to mitigate future risk, be proactive in protecting your personal
information, moderate your online activity