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Monday, 23 February 2009
Page: 1438

Mr BRADBURY (5:29 PM) —I rise to continue my contribution to this debate on the Law and Justice Legislation Amendment (Identity Crimes and Other Measures) Bill 2008, a debate which was interrupted by question time. Prior to question time I was commenting on a Facebook scam that I had become aware of. One of my staff members drew to my attention the fact that someone in the gallery had contacted my office shortly after my earlier contribution just to confirm that they too had been the subject of a similar type of scam. So it is something that is reasonably widespread and something that users of Facebook should be aware of.

I simply reiterate my support for the measures in this bill, which go to addressing this growing problem of identity theft throughout the community. Continuing on with some of the local examples of identity theft I have witnessed, those examples that have been brought to me and my electorate office, I also had another instance that involved a credit card matter. In this particular case the resident who came to see me estimated that they would have had approximately $1,400 available in their bank account as their balance. The victim checked their account through the internet using their internet banking and realised that their account had exceeded its limit. However, the details of the transactions had not yet been made available. They contacted the bank directly to seek further information. It was then pointed out to them by the bank that there were two transactions, one of $700 and the other of $750. The particular resident knew nothing about these transactions. As a result of her quick action, the bank was able to act in regard to these transactions. It resulted in there not being any loss of money for her. However, if she had not contacted the bank so promptly then it would have been much harder to prove that the transactions were fraudulent. This is yet another case where electronic technology, the internet in particular, has been used and someone’s identity has been assumed by someone else taking advantage of that technology to that person’s detriment.

Before I conclude, I want to make a few observations. At the local shopping centre where I shop, recently there has been a new practice develop when you use a credit card. Previously I always had to sign for the credit card but now they seem very intent on encouraging you to use a PIN. I must say there were plenty of occasions when I used my credit card and signed and, frankly, did not think that the shop attendant looked at my card to confirm whether or not the signature resembled the one that I had just penned. That does not serve to reflect poorly on shop attendants. Having worked as a casual shop attendant for some seven years, I have got much sympathy about the demands on those in those roles. But it does in my mind reinforce the need for having stringent controls and offences available to ensure that, in regard to those individuals who do seek to assume the identity of others to engage in identity theft or identity fraud, there should be adequate remedies available. It is not just about ensuring that those who transgress are able to be brought to justice but about ensuring that the victims, who generally have not been at fault, have avenues available to them to quickly rectify the record and make sure that they are not disadvantaged any further.

My final observation is that, talking to a local retailer in my community, he was advising me that there has been a growth in demand for shredders at his particular shop. He believes, and his opinion seems to be borne out by other anecdotal evidence that I have been able to procure, that this is because of the growing prominence of identity theft and that more and more families and households are becoming aware of the need to take greater care with disposing of documents that might disclose information of a private and confidential nature, information that ultimately would allow others, if it got into their hands, to use that information to assume the identity or to steal the identity of those people. I think that is a good thing. While this bill is clearly an important part of the overall mix, we should not underestimate the significance of ensuring that there is adequate education in this regard, to make sure that people do take necessary steps to protect the confidentiality of their material and to ensure that they are not, through their own carelessness, handing over material that makes the job of those wanting to steal their identity that much easier.

I think it is a great bill, one worthy of this parliament’s support, and I am very pleased to be speaking in support of it.