Law under the name of the victim, allowing

Law in the Digital Age


from identity theft:

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Identity theft is a lucrative
means by which thieves are able to make a profit once they have access to a
person’s personal information, allowing them to steal money from one’s bank
account and/or commit utilities and communications fraud. Criminals are able to
open credit card or checking accounts in the victim’s name as well as applying
for large loans, allowing them to accrue debt while paying for goods and
services without having to pay it back. This is a large problem in Australia
with an estimated $900 million lost by individuals annually through credit card
fraud, scams and other identity theft ( For
example in the case of Oklahoma woman Regina Fran Webb, the alleged was found
guilty of both unauthorized use of a credit card as well as theft of mortgage
settlement funds. The losses of Webb’s crimes were alleged to have totalled
more than $800,000, thus indicating the profitability of this crime given that
these transactions were said to have occurred over a three year period from
2009-2012. ( ).
Utilities and communications fraud is another subset of identity theft and
enables criminals to profit off victims by gaining access to their phone and
utility accounts or opening up new ones in the victim’s name and running up
large bills which will be charged back to the victim. This type of fraud is
highly accessible to criminals and occurs more frequently due to the ease with
which it can be committed as very few details from the victim may be required
in order for the thief to open these telecommunication and utilities accounts.
With regards to communications fraud, a criminal may gain free access to
telecommunication products such as phone and internet plans under the name of
the victim, allowing them to use such services for as long as it takes for the
telecommunication provider to cancel the account. Utilities fraud occurs
similarly when the thief creates utility accounts under the guise of the victim
which may include gas, water or electricity as well as entertainment services
such as cable TV, Netflix or other internet subscriptions. Unlike identity
theft relating to credit cards and bank account information which is profitable
to the criminal in the form of money, utilities and communication fraud may
also be profitable in the way it allows free access to a variety of




and preventing identity theft:

Identity theft can be
prevented on a number of levels- it may first be addressed by individuals
themselves, adopting new methods of keeping their information safe as well as
through the help of government agencies and the police force to track down and
stop criminals from undertaking these crimes. One of the most effective and yet
simple ways at preventing identity theft can be achieved by individuals
securing their personal information online; keeping passwords safe and
inaccessible, only entering personal details on secure websites as well as installing
security software on computers to prevent phishing emails or other methods by
which hackers may gain access to an individual’s personal details. It is also
important that individuals are educated on various scams that criminals employ
over the phone or internet aimed at stealing personal information for the
purpose of identity theft. The AFP constantly enlists the aid of social media
as well as television and other advertisements in order to run campaigns to
educate Australian people on current phishing scams occurring, allowing for the
minimisation of identity theft risk. Identity theft may also be prevented by
keeping physical forms of personal information such as credit cards and
identification cards safe and destroying sensitive material like bank
statements. On a wider scale, in Australia the two main agencies involved with
investigating and preventing identity theft are the Australian Federal Police
as well as the Identity Security Strike Team (ISST) who are ‘dedicated to the
investigation of identity related crime’ and ‘focused on investigating serious
and complex crime matters.’ ( In
having a dedicated agency tasked with the investigation of identity theft and
related crimes, criminals are more accountable for their crimes and can be
caught easier, preventing instances of identity theft and keeping Australian
citizens safe from this crime. The ISST are continuously active in their role
in defending against cyber crimes and the most recent ‘Operation Loa’ in
November 2017 resulted in the arrest of 7 people related to mail theft and
identity takeovers . ( people
in Another important department relating to solving identity theft is the
Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) which provides
information to individuals regarding how to prevent identity theft and allows
affected people to contact them for further help. It is government led
initiatives such as ACORN and ISST that prevent identity theft from occurring
and minimise the effects of this crime upon individuals and reduce the time it
takes to recover.