Personal Fraud methodology

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Reference period
2021-22 financial year


This publication contains results from the Personal Fraud Survey (PFS), a topic on the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) conducted throughout Australia from July 2021 to June 2022. The MPHS, undertaken each financial year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics.

The survey collected information from individuals about their experience of selected types of personal fraud in the 12 months prior to interview, including card fraud, identity theft, online impersonation and selected types of scams. Identity theft questions also collected some information about incidents that occurred in the five years prior to interview. The survey also collected information about the socio-demographic characteristics of persons who experienced fraud, and information about the most recent/serious incident experienced for each type of fraud. Non-person victims of fraud (e.g. organisations and businesses) were not included in the scope of the survey.

Data collection


The scope of the survey was restricted to people aged 15 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings and excludes:

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from Census and estimated resident population counts
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants)
  • persons living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, nursing homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons
  • persons resident in the Indigenous Community Strata (ICS).

The scope for MPHS included households residing in urban, rural, remote and very remote parts of Australia, except the ICS.


In the LFS, rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person in scope is associated with only one dwelling, and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia for more detail.

Sample size

Information was collected from 23,949 fully responding persons. This includes 386 proxy interviews for people aged 15 to 17 years, where permission was not given by a parent or guardian for a personal interview.

Collection method

The survey is one of a number of small, self-contained topics on the MPHS.

Each month, one eighth of the dwellings in the LFS sample were rotated out of the survey and selected for the MPHS. After the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a usual resident aged 15 years or over was selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. 

In the MPHS, if the randomly selected person was aged 15 to 17 years, permission was sought from a parent or guardian before conducting the interview. If permission was not given, the parent or guardian was asked the questions on behalf of the 15 to 17 year old (proxy interview). 

Data were collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, with interviews conducted over the telephone. 

Processing the data

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Country of birth


Equivalised weekly household income

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

Comparing the data

Comparability of Time Series

As a similar methodology has been adopted across successive Personal Fraud Survey cycles, data on the prevalence of personal fraud is comparable across the survey periods. This has enabled some time series comparisons of victimisation rates to be made in this publication. 

Reporting rate figures in 2021-22 are comparable with 2020-21 but not 2014-15, due to changes in the question wording.

Comparability to monthly LFS Statistics

Since the survey is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in this publication. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The scope of the Personal Fraud Survey and the LFS differ (refer to the Scope section above). Due to the differences between the samples, data from this survey and the LFS are weighted separately. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates for those data items collected in the LFS and published as part of the Personal Fraud Survey.

Data release


Datacubes containing all tables for this publication in Excel spreadsheet format are available from the Data downloads section of the main publication. The spreadsheets present tables of estimates and proportions, and their corresponding relative standard errors (RSEs).

As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may be able to provide other relevant data on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tables can be tailored to individual requirements for a fee. A list of data items from this survey is available from the Data downloads section. For inquiries about these and related statistics, contact the Customer Assistance Service via the ABS website Contact Us page.


To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves a small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals.

Perturbation has been applied to Personal Fraud Survey datasets from the 2014-15 survey onwards. Data from cycles prior to 2014-15 (i.e. 2007 and 2010-11) have not been perturbed, but underwent a different confidentialisation method to protect the confidentiality of respondents.


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