11 February 2011

Identity Crime

The Minister for Home Affairs & Justice, Brendan O'Connor, has noted the passage of the Law and Justice Legislation Amendment (Identity Crimes and Other Measures) Bill 2010 (Cth), legislation to "better tackle identity theft and help victims to re-establish their lives".

O'Connor commented that -
Identity theft is a terrible crime that is not only frustrating and time-consuming to remedy, but can lead to serious damage to a person's credit history and reputation for many years

Unfortunately, no-one is immune to identity crime.

For example, in recent weeks identity thieves have posed as leading staff of some of our major law enforcement agencies, such as the Australian Crime Commission and Customs & Border Protection.

A person's identity can be used falsely to obtain citizenship, Centrelink payments, medical services, gain professional qualifications or for criminal purposes, among other things.
The new legislation creates three new offences -
Up to five years jail for making, supplying or using identification information with the intention of committing a Commonwealth indictable offence

Up to three years jail for possessing identification information with the intention of committing identity crime

Up to three years jail for possessing equipment to make identification documentation with the intention of committing identity crime.
Given the resonance of 'identity theft' in popular culture O'Connor went on to -
thank my fellow parliamentarians for their recognition of the distressing nature of this invasive offence and their willingness to join the Gillard Government in taking action.
He indicated that the legislative changes are technology-neutral and designed to take account of evolving types of identity crime such as phishing and the use of malicious software.
Coupled with existing State and Federal offences for theft, forgery, fraud and credit card skimming these new penalties provide a serious deterrent to would-be identity thieves.

The new laws also help to address the needs of the victims of identity crime to re-establish their identities more easily.

Victims of identity crime can now apply to a Magistrate for a certificate stating that their identity information has been misused

This will help victims to re-establish their credit rating and help exonerate them of offences committed under their name.
Reestablishment of the credit rating may take some time.