Hidden licence features saving us millions
FRAUDSTERS are after your identity, a crime costing Aussies upward of $1.6 billion a year - but a technology found on banknotes could help change that.
According to the Australian Federal Police, identity crime is a critical threat to Australians with about $900 million lost by individuals each year through credit card fraud, theft and scams.
Some of these scams involve the use of stolen, fake or doctored driver's licenses and Medicare cards.
"Typically, fraudsters would pick away at the laminate of a driver's licence that covers the top of the card to alter information and/ or the photo to create a new identity," Stephen Pratt of technology company Leonhard Kurz Australia said.
"It is then used to create a bank account, apply for a Medicare card and ultimately, a passport."
The managing director of Kurz Australia said the company, which specialises in hot stamping and coating, has managed to drastically reduce driver's licence counterfeits in Queensland through its identification security technology, Kinegram.
It is the same technology used on the new $5 and $10 notes across the country.
"Queensland is currently the only Australian government to have implemented the Kinegram technology, which is similar to holograms," he said.
Mr Pratt said the Kinegram technology outsmarted fraudsters through its use of specific visual effects, which are embossed onto the foil or overlay and anchored to the card using specialised adhesives.
"Meaning if you try to remove the overlay to change the information on the card, you destroy it, making it completely tamper evident," he said.
"The Kinegram overlay protects all the variable data on the front of the card including the photo, while a Kinegram patch is hot stamped on the rear of the card to prove authenticity.
"Feedback from Queensland's department of Transport and Main Roads was that they have not had one successful alteration or successful counterfeit of driver's licences since they implemented it in 2012," Mr Pratt said.
In 2015, a joint state-federal investigation broke up a counterfeiting syndicate that tried to smuggle 5000 security holograms - used on NSW driver's licences - from China. Operation Mera also seized thousands of blank cards, electronic card templates, card readers, and fraudulent Australian and overseas identity documents.
Despite strict privacy laws and tightening digital security measures, the reality underpinning the counterfeiting and ID-theft black market is that it's remarkably easy to obtain and use stolen personal information.
Mr Pratt said if governments were serious about reducing identity theft and fraud, it was critical that all physical government ID documents were protected.
"Millions are spent on cyber security, but no one is talking about physical security," he said.
"It takes people a long time to get their identity back and a lot of money, let alone the damage it causes through fraudulent use of their name and in some cases criminal charges.
"Australia has scaled up the protection of its banknotes against forgery and counterfeiting, so why don't we have the same protection for people's identities?"
The company is in talks with other states to have the technology implemented into its driver's licences.