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Misuse of personal information lies at the heart of identity crime and continues to affect all sectors of the Australian community. The most recent estimate of its national economic impact is $2.4b for 2014, of which $2b related to direct and indirect costs, with the remaining $350m expended in prevention and response costs by government, business and individuals (Emami & Smith 2015).

To understand the trends associated with identity crime and misuse in Australia, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) was, in 2014, commissioned by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department to undertake a national survey of the problem for the second time. The study is one of a series of initiatives being implemented as part of the National Identity Security Strategy, Australia’s national response to enhancing identity security, which seeks to prevent identity crime and misuse, contribute to national security and facilitate the benefits of the digital economy.

Respondents were asked a series of questions relating to the number of contacts, responses and victimisation incidents experienced, as well as financial loss and other impacts, reporting and response activities, and victims’ perceptions of changing levels of risk. Detailed demographic information was also collected that enabled profiles of victims to be created.

It was found that almost 9 percent of the 5,000 people surveyed experienced criminal misuse of their personal information in the previous 12 months, with almost 5 percent of those surveyed reporting actual out-of-pocket losses. Although these victimisation and loss rates are down slightly on those obtained in 2013, the scale of the problem remains of concern.

Raising awareness of the risks that individuals face, and gathering sound statistical data on the problem, is an effective way in which to address the problem of misuse of personal information. This second report shows how victimisation has changed and assists in identifying how resources could best be allocated to address the problem in the most cost-effective manner.

Dr Adam Tomison
Director and Chief Executive
Last updated
3 November 2017