4528.0 - Personal Fraud, 2010-2011 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/04/2012   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


Data on Personal Fraud were collected as part of the 2010–11 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS). The MPHS is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect annual statistics on a small number of self-contained topics. The scope of the LFS is restricted to people aged 15 years and over and excludes members of the permanent defence forces; certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments usually excluded from census and estimated resident populations; overseas residents in Australia; and members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants). Refer to Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for further information regarding the LFS. In addition, the 2010–11 MPHS excluded people living in very remote parts of Australia and people living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, inmates of prisons and residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities).

In the Personal Fraud component of the MPHS, respondents aged 15 years and over were asked questions about their experiences of types of personal fraud. The type of information collected included their experience of identity fraud (credit or bank card fraud and identity theft) and scams (lotteries, pyramid schemes, chain letters, fake notifications received from banks, financial institutions or businesses, requests to send financial information to another person, and other scams). Information was collected from one person selected at random in each selected household.

The 2010-11 Personal Fraud Survey provides an indication of change from the 2007 Personal Fraud Survey. Personal and consumer frauds are thought to be a fast expanding and evolving area of crime, and these surveys have been run to provide an indication of the prevalence of this issue in Australia and whether or not this is changing over time. Input into the development and funding of the 2007 Personal Fraud Survey was provided by most members of the ACFT.


The MPHS is collected annually with enumeration undertaken over the financial year period from July to June. As the survey reference period was the 12 months prior to the survey interview during 2010–11 (except for identity theft), the data relate to personal fraud occurring at some time between July 2009 and June 2011 (except for identity theft). Generally, data from the MPHS are released approximately 6–8 months after they have been collected.


The Personal Fraud questions comprised a sample of 26,405 fully responding households, which represented a response rate of 81%.

Two types of error are possible in an estimate based on a sample survey: non-sampling error and sampling error. Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise reporting error by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient data processing procedures. Non-sampling error also arises because information cannot be obtained from all persons selected in the survey.

Sampling error occurs because a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed. One measure of the likely difference resulting from not including all dwellings in the survey is given by the standard error (SE). There are about two chances in three a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all dwellings had been included in the survey, and about 19 chances in 20 the difference will be less than two SEs. Measures of the relative standard errors (RSE) of the estimates for this survey are included with this release.

The LFS, and consequently the MPHS, is primarily designed to provide estimates for the whole of Australia and, secondly, for each state and territory. The exclusion of people living in very remote parts of Australia is unlikely to impact on state and territory aggregate estimates, except for the Northern Territory where these people account for about 23% of the population.


This is the second time that national data about personal fraud has been collected, with the first Personal Fraud Survey being conducted in 2007.

There have been a number of changes from the 2007 Personal Fraud survey which have affected the comparability of some data items from the 2010-11 survey with data from the 2007 survey.

The 2007 survey was conducted over a six month period from July to December whereas the 2010-11 survey was conducted over 12 months. Care should be taken when comparing estimates relating to the last 12 months prior to interview, as seasonable factors may have influenced the rate or nature of fraud perpetration between January and June and the impacts of this were not able to be quantified.

Due to the relatively low prevalence of identity theft, details about have been collected about incidents of identity theft that respondents became aware of in the last 5 years prior to interview in 2010-11, compared to the last 12 months prior to interview in 2007. 2010-11 data describing characteristics of victims of identity theft relates to incidents in the last 12 months only and is comparable to similar tables in the 2007 publication.

Some of the types of selected scams included in 2010-11 differ from those in 2007 and it is not recommended to directly compare categories. While the categories of 'lotteries', 'pyramid schemes', and 'chain letters' are similar, the question wording changed from the wording used in 2007. 'Phishing' (a fraudulent request, purporting to be from a business or bank, to confirm a person’s bank account or personal details) was included in 2007, but has been incorporated into the following new categories: 'a fake notification or offer from a bank or other financial institution' and 'a fake notification or offer from an established business'. 'Advance fee fraud' (an unsolicited request to transfer funds into a person's bank account in return for a commission or fee) was also included in 2007. The 2011 category, 'requests to send bank or financial details to another person' is similar, but the question asked did not specify 'in return for a commission or fee', which was an element of the definition of Advance fee fraud in 2007. The 2007 category 'financial advice' is included in 'other scams' in 2010-11.

Information about characteristics of incidents of personal fraud are not comparable across the two reference periods. In 2007, detailed characteristics were collected about the most recent incident of each type of fraud. The 2010-11 survey collected detailed characteristics about all incidents in the last 12 months for each fraud type.

Information about financial loss related to the total loss for all incidents of each type of fraud in the last 12 months in both 2007 and 2010-11.

The terms used to describe the various types of offences in this publication may not necessarily correspond with legal or police definitions.


The Personal Fraud Survey publication contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Technical Notes and a Glossary that provide information on the terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.


All tables and associated RSEs are available in Excel spreadsheets and can be accessed from Downloads.

Additional tables may also be available on request. Appendix 1 of the Explanatory Notes contains a list of the data items available for request. Note that detailed data can be subject to high RSEs and, in some cases, may result in data being confidentialised.

In addition to the data available in the Excel spreadsheets, other tables will be able to be produced using Survey TableBuilder (STB), an online tool for creating tables and graphs. STB for the 2010–11 Personal Fraud Survey is expected to be available in mid 2012 as part of the Crime Victimisation STB.

For further information about these or related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service.