4528.0 - Personal Fraud, 2014-15  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/04/2016   
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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 relating to people's experiences of selected types of personal fraud were collected as part of the 2014-15 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 2014-15 MPHS scope excluded 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). People living in Indigenous Community Frame (ICF) Collection Districts (CDs) were also excluded for operational reasons.

In the Personal Fraud Survey, respondents aged 15 years and over were asked questions about their experiences of selected types of personal fraud, including card fraud, identity theft and selected scam types (lottery, information request, pyramid scheme, relationship, up-front payment, financial advice, computer support, working from home, online trading or auction site, and other type of scam). Information was collected from one person selected at random in each selected household.

The survey has been designed to meet the growing need for data regarding the occurrence of personal fraud, and the changing prevalence and nature of fraud offences over time.


As the survey reference period was the 12 months prior to the survey interview during 2014-15, the data relate to experiences occurring at some time between July 2013 and June 2015. Information about experiences of identity theft were also collected for a five year reference period, encompassing any incidents occurring between July 2009 and June 2015. Generally, results from the Personal Fraud Survey are released approximately 7–8 months after final enumeration.


The 2014-15 Personal Fraud Survey comprised a sample of 27,341 fully responding households, which represented a response rate of 73%.

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 through carefully designed 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 that 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.


This is the third time that national data about personal fraud have been collected as part of the MPHS, with the previous two surveys being conducted in 2007 and 2010-11.

There have been a number of changes to survey content since it was last conducted in 2010-11, which affect the comparability of some data items across time periods. These changes were made following consultation with key stakeholders, in order to enable the survey to capture developments in the field of personal fraud.

The specified types of scams included in the 2014-15 survey have changed since the 2010-11 survey. Scam types that were included in the 2010-11 survey but not in the 2014-15 survey include chain letter, fake notification or offer from a bank or financial institution, fake notification or offer from an established business, and request to send bank or financial details to another person. New scam types that were added in the 2014-15 survey include relationship, up-front payment, financial advice, computer support, working from home, and online trading. Information on lottery and pyramid scheme scams was collected in both the 2010-11 and 2014-15 surveys.

Another change made since the 2010-11 survey relates to the way in which incident characteristics questions were asked. In 2010-11, incident characteristics questions were asked in relation to all incidents experienced. In 2014-15, the majority of incident characteristics questions were asked only in relation to the most recent incident experienced for card fraud and identity theft, and the most serious incident experienced (as judged by the respondent) for scams. The only two incident characteristics questions that were asked in relation to all incidents experienced in 2014-15 were whether behaviour has changed and how behaviour has changed as a result of all incidents experienced. Due to these changes, care should be taken when comparing incident characteristics information between the 2014-15 and 2010-11 surveys.

Due to changes in the question regarding experience of identity theft, data from 2014-15 are not comparable with those from 2010-11.

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


To aid in the interpretation of the personal fraud data, detailed information on concepts, definitions, terminology and other technical aspects of the survey can be found in the relevant web pages included with this release. This includes the Explanatory Notes, Glossary, Abbreviations, and Technical Note.


All tables containing estimates and associated RSEs are available in Excel spreadsheets and can be accessed from the Downloads tab. For the 2014-15 release, any RSEs greater than 50% have been suppressed, while the estimate has been released.

Additional data may also be available on request through an ABS customised data consultancy. The Downloads tab includes an Excel spreadsheet containing a complete list of the data items available.

For further information about these or related statistics, contact ABS National Information and Referral Service or on 1300 135 070.https://www4.abs.gov.au/web/survey.nsf/contactform/