This publication presents findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2010-11 Personal Fraud Survey conducted throughout Australia from July 2010 to June 2011. This is the second national survey of personal fraud in Australia, with the first Personal Fraud Survey conducted in 2007. The survey data estimates the extent and characteristics of personal fraud experienced by people in Australia who are aged 15 years and over. It excludes fraud experienced by businesses, corporations, governments, and agencies. The survey asked questions about identity fraud (which included credit card/bank card fraud and identity theft) and scams.
In recent years, personal fraud has been recognised as a growing threat to personal and financial security, as well as the economy and global commerce. This threat emanates from both non-electronic methods of fraud, often committed through more traditional channels such as in person, and electronic methods of fraud, perpetrated in digital and online environments. Indeed, the rapid expansion and availability of internet technology and the increase in electronic storage, transmission and sharing of information has increased people’s vulnerability to electronic fraud in recent years. In response to the growing concern about personal fraud, the Australian and New Zealand Governments established the Australian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (ACFT) in 2005. The taskforce represents a whole-of-government approach to increase community awareness of personal fraud through public education campaigns, as well as generating interest around personal fraud research and enhancing enforcement activity against personal fraud.
Personal fraud is not just an issue impacting upon the Australian community, but the broader international community as well. A range of international organisations, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), encourage international cooperation against cross-border fraud. For example, in 2003 the OECD adopted Cross-border Fraud Guidelines to assist member countries to develop domestic and international personal fraud protection initiatives. The guidelines have lead to the adoption of new or amended domestic laws to give fraud agencies more authority and enhance coordination with other government bodies. This has resulted in landmark cross-boarder fraud cases, such as the Competition Bureau Canada returning over $18,000 (US dollars) to 14 victims in Australia. Also as a result of the guidelines came the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) for member countries to share experiences and best practices. International responses to personal fraud have also come from the private sector, with companies offering a range of products, such as internet security software, to combat online fraud.
Due to the wide range of commercial and government agencies who have a authority to respond to various types of personal frauds and scams, it can be difficult to effectively capture the prevalence of such incidents using reported or administrative datasets. This survey provides a national benchmark measure of the extent to which Australians have been exposed to a range of personal frauds, whether they became a victim of a selected range of personal frauds and whether they incurred any financial loss as a result of being victimised.