Federal government urged to improve protection for fraud victims

The federal government should move to increase support for victims of identify fraud, a parliamentary committee has recommended

The federal joint parliamentary committee on law enforcement has recommended that the Attorney-General’s Department to review rules by which fraud victims are granted legal recognition.

The recommendation was the result of a wide-ranging inquiry into financial crime in Australia launched in March 2014. The inquiry was launched to detect flaws in the commonwealth’s ability to detect and combat financial crime.

The committee heard evidence from the federal government’s own fraud victim support body, iDcare that the evidentiary bar for achieving Commonwealth recognition had been set too high.

Under the federal government’s current fraud recognition scheme, victims are allowed to apply for a certificate designed to help support their ability to make claims in relation to financial and other losses.

However, victims are required to meet three criteria including proving that a perpetrator assumed their identity and with the intent “to commit or help commit a Commonwealth indictable offence”.

“iDcare is not aware of any successful issuance of a victim certificate for identity crime, within either relevant State equivalent measures or the Commonwealth.

“This is not from a lack of interest. iDcare receives a number of calls from individuals that express interest in obtaining such certificates, but in all instances fall at the first hurdle of the essential element – someone has been successfully convicted of an identity crime offence,” the agency said.

The inquiry also examined contactless payment systems and emerging crypto currencies including Bitcoin.

In the case of contactless payments, law enforcement agencies convinced the committee to recommend that banks and other card issuing authorities require consumers to opt-in to consent to activate contactless.

The committee recognised the potential for crypto currencies to be used for illicit purposes including organised crime and terrorism. However, it said it would defer to a Senate Economics References Committee examining digital currencies.

That committee, which reported to parliament in August, recommended that the government consider establishing a taskforce to further investigate risks involved with digital currencies and support a self-regulatory model in the meantime.

iDcare estimated that 1.1 million consumers fall victim to fraud across Australia and New Zealand each year.


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