Identity theft to become a crime

The Crimes Amendment (Identity Crime) Bill 2008 will insert new offences in the Crimes Act 1958 to deal with the increasing problem of identity theft.

The Bill will commence on 1 October 2009 at the latest (assuming it is passed and receives Royal Assent).

It creates offences of:

  • Making, using or supplying identification information
  • Possessing identification information
  • Possessing equipment used to make identification information
Each offence has two mens rea elements:
  1. The accused must be aware, or aware there is a substantial risk, the information is identification information
  2. The accused intended to use it in an indictable offence

The Bill also provides for the Court to issue an Identity Theft Certificate to victims of identity theft.

Surprisingly, the explanatory memorandum doesn’t detail the purpose of this provision.

One significant problem faced by victims of identity theft is convincing authorities and financial institutions that it was someone else who defrauded the system. (You can imagine going to the bank: “It wasn’t you who applied for $65 000 credit on a platinum card, maxxed it out and then defaulted on the repayments? It was a criminal? Sure it was…”)

I guess the certificate will allow victims to prove their identity was stolen, so they can begin to clear their name and restore their credit rating. The Commonwealth Identity Theft Kit (it’s supposed to be an anti-Identity Theft Kit) has some more information, as does Choice.

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