This page contains information about Commonwealth victims' certificates, which may be helpful if you are a victim of a Commonwealth identity crime and the theft is causing you problems in your business or personal affairs.
For general information on recovering from identity crime and restoring your identity, refer to the Recovering your stolen identity page.
Commonwealth identity crime
Commonwealth identity crime occurs where the following three elements are proven:
- a person makes, supplies or uses identification information (yours, or a third party's)
- they do this intending that either they or someone else will pretend to be you or another person (who is living, dead, real or fictitious)
- the act of pretending would be done to commit or help commit a Commonwealth indictable offence.
A Commonwealth indictable offence is an offence against a Commonwealth law that is punishable by more than twelve months' imprisonment. For the Commonwealth identity crime offence to be committed, someone only needs to intend to pass themselves off as another person, regardless of whether this actually happened.
Examples of victims of Commonwealth identity crime are when:
- your birth certificate was used by someone else to falsely claim a payment from Centrelink in your name
- a person pretended to be you by using your identification details to have your Medicare rebates redirected to their bank account
- a person used your credit card without your permission to purchase and import illegal substances
- a person established a false business in your name to fraudulently claim GST
- a person used your passport or citizenship details to pass themselves off as you and travel overseas.
Commonwealth Victims' Certificates
A Commonwealth Victims' Certificate is provided by a state or territory magistrate to a victim of Commonwealth identity crime that:
- records the name of the victim
- describes the circumstances in which the person has been a victim of Commonwealth identity crime.
The perpetrator or alleged perpetrator of the Commonwealth identity crime offence will not be identified in the certificate. The certificate helps support your claim that you have been the victim of Commonwealth identity crime. You can present the certificate to an organisation such as a government agency or a business (such as a financial institution or credit agency).
This may help you negotiate with them to re-establish your credentials or to remove a fraudulent transaction from their records. A certificate does not compel any organisation to take a particular action. It will not automatically re-establish your credit rating or remove a fraudulent transaction from your record. It is also not admissible in any legal proceedings.
Applying for a certificate
You can apply for a certificate if:
- you have been the victim of Commonwealth identity crime
- a certificate would help to correct problems with your personal or business affairs caused by the Commonwealth identity crime.
You will need to complete an application for a victims' certificate and a Commonwealth statutory declaration:
Submit the completed application form and statutory declaration to a magistrate of a state or territory magistrates court.
You will need to present proof of your identity to the magistrate. The magistrate may seek further information from you to help them decide whether to issue a certificate. Details of state and territory magistrates are listed at the bottom of this page.
Examples of identification information includes your (or a third party's):
- driver licence
- citizenship details
- bank account details
- credit card details
- personal information such as a name, address or date of birth.
The magistrate will only issue a certificate if they are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that:
- another person used identification information intending that it would be used by someone to pretend to be another person (real or fictitious), and that this would be done to commit or help commit a Commonwealth indictable offence
- a certificate may help you to address problems with personal or business affairs resulting from these events.
The magistrate does not need to determine whether a Commonwealth identity crime offence has been committed by a particular person or business, as there is no requirement for a person to have been prosecuted or convicted of Commonwealth identity crime.
A magistrate must not issue a certificate if doing so would affect any court proceedings relating to the alleged identity crime.
Certificates for organisations
An organisation can also be affected by Commonwealth identity crime. An organisation can apply for a Commonwealth Victims' Certificate if a certificate might help that organisation to rectify the impacts of identity crime on their business.
A magistrate may decide not to issue you with a Commonwealth Victims' Certificate. You can still seek help from the relevant government agency or other organisation. You should provide information and evidence that may demonstrate that you have been a victim of identity crime.
State and territory magistrates