December 1, 2023

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The Legal Consequences of Cybercrimes: Identity Theft

Computer-related Identity Theft is a Serious Cyber Crime - Law Firm in  Metro Manila, Philippines | Corporate, Family, IP law, and Litigation  Lawyers

With the increasingly digitalised nature of the world, cybercrimes are also becoming more and more common. In 2022 alone, the Australian Cyber Security Centre revealed that it received over 76,000 cybercrime reports in the previous financial year. With the growing prevalence of cybercrime, it is thus more important than ever for you to stay up to date with the latest relevant laws. In this post, we take a closer look at identity theft.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a crime where the perpetrator pretends to be someone else, stealing their identity and using their personal information in a fraudulent manner. Identity theft typically involves illegal activities as well, as identity thieves often use the stolen identities to take out loans and credit cards in the victims’ names. This can result in many long-lasting consequences on the victim of identity theft, such as reputational damage, damage to credit scores and even financial losses. 

Identity Theft in the Digital Realm

Traditionally, identity theft used to occur more commonly when a perpetrator was able to obtain your identification documents. However, with advancements in technology, identity thieves can now steal your personal information using purely online methods. 

One of the most common ways that identity thieves steal your identity might be through phishing. Phishing involves the perpetrator posing as a reputable organisation such as a bank or government body. They may then send you a link to a fake website where they ask you to input your personal details such as your bank passwords. Once they obtain this information, they may then use it to steal your money or commit other forms of fraud. 

Laws and Regulations Surrounding Identity Theft

In Victoria, the laws surrounding identity theft are relatively clear. If you are convicted of possessing identification documents that don’t belong to you, such as a bank account password or an ABN, and you use those documents to commit a crime, the maximum penalty that you might face would be up to six years imprisonment. 

Investigating and Prosecuting Cybercrimes

Unlike with traditional crime, specialised tools and techniques are used by law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes. Law enforcement agencies may work with digital forensics and cybercrime experts to track down a perpetrators digital footprint and to gather evidence of their illegal activities.

However, given the transborder nature of cybercrimes, many crimes are committed by perpetrators who are physically located outside of Australia. This makes enforcement more difficult and may require cooperation between international law enforcement agencies. Given the difficulty in enforcement, it’s important for you to take steps as an individual to avoid falling victim to cybercrimes. For instance, you can change your online passwords regularly and use two-factor authentication where possible.

Getting Legal Representation

If you’ve been involved by the police in a cybercrime representation, getting legal representation from an experienced fraud lawyer can help you effectively navigate your case. Leanne Warren & Associates is a firm of leading criminal lawyers based in Melbourne and we can help you get the best outcome from your legal case. Contact us today for a free consultation!