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Agreement reached on new national laws to outlaw credit card skimming.

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Minister for Justice and Customs Senator for Western Australia

E32/04 19 March 2004

Agreement reached on new national laws to outlaw credit card skimming

The Australian Government will move immediately to implement national model laws outlawing credit card skimming, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today.

“The new offences will criminalise credit card skimming, the process by which legitimate credit and debit card data is illegally captured or copied, usually by electronic means,” Senator Ellison said.

“Credit card skimming has recently emerged as a significant law enforcement challenge for Australia,” he said.

“While existing Federal, State and Territory fraud and forgery offences cover many activities related to credit card skimming, they do not comprehensively address the act of data skimming or the possession of skimmed data.”

“The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Norfolk Island today, has also authorised the release of a discussion paper which details broader options for making credit card skimming a criminal offence.’

The Model Criminal Code Officers Committee discussion paper addresses contemporary and emerging technological developments in credit card skimming and identifies options for comprehensively criminalising this activity.

One option canvassed in the discussion paper is to address credit card skimming as part of broader provisions on the topic of identity theft. South Australia has recently adopted this approach, enacting the Criminal Law Consolidation (Identity Theft) Act 2003 (SA).

Another option is to create more narrow and targeted offences criminalising credit card skimming separately from the issue of the identity theft - an option which has effectively been taken up as part of the agreement from SCAG for the Australian Government to implement a nationally consistent approach to this serious crime.

The paper includes a model offence of this type that criminalises dishonest dealings in personal financial information without the consent of the person to whom the information relates. It has been carefully drafted to ensure it will not be overtaken by technological developments.

“Although the Government will now legislate to criminalise credit card skimming, the discussion paper provides a useful basis for public consultation,” Senator Ellison said.

“The Australian Government urges people with an interest in this issue to make comment to the Attorney-General’s Department.”

The discussion paper will be available on line at from 19 March 2004, with public comment due by 19 April 2004.

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