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9.1 Identity management and support

The Identity Program plays an important role in confirming and checking the identities of people who interact with the department—that is, ensuring that people are who they say they are. These checks are fundamental to the integrity of the department’s work and help protect our customers.

The department plays a key role in the whole‑of‑government identity ecosystem. It works with other government departments and agencies, such as the Department of Home Affairs and the Digital Transformation Agency, to strengthen processes for managing identity checks and making it easier for people to enrol in services in a way that suits them.

Under the Identity Program, the department:

  • manages identity as a fraud control measure
  • assists customers who have genuine difficulty in satisfying the department’s identity requirements
  • leads the department’s digital identity initiatives
  • strengthens the department’s response to identity security risk
  • provides support to customers whose personal information or identity documents have been stolen or lost and/or misused.

Support for customers who are potential victims of scams or identity theft is provided through the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk. The Helpdesk assesses the risk of compromise to customers and provides remediation to secure their departmental records and refer them through to other services, such as IDCARE, Australia’s national identity support service.

The Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk number is 1800 941 126.

In 2018–19, the department:

  • confirmed the identities of over 680,000 customers in line with the Department of Home Affairs National Identity Proofing Guidelines
  • successfully matched over 4.8 million identity documents from customers using the Department of Home Affairs’ Document Verification Service
  • took over 8,900 calls to the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk from customers who were at risk of identity compromise either through scams or identity theft, or wanted assurance that the contact they received from the department was legitimate and not a scam
  • referred 2,042 customers to IDCARE.

Protecting Australians from Scams

Young man sitting at desk in front of a woman with back to the camera. Young man has one hand on face with eyes closed as if overwhelmed by information on a piece of paper he is holding in the other hand.

Scammers often pretend to be from government departments, including ours.

Over time, we’ve seen scammers getting smarter and taking advantage of changes to our products or services and of major events like natural disasters to create believable stories. These sophisticated scams can convince our customers to part with their money or personal details.

In May 2018, the department introduced a new helpdesk for customers to call if they suspect that they’ve been targeted by a scammer. We took over 8,900 calls to the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk in 2018–19 from customers who were at risk of identity compromise through either scams or identity theft or wanted assurance that a contact they received from the department was legitimate and not a scam.

Nick was one of these callers. He received an SMS message claiming to be from Medicare. The text asked him to update his personal details to get Medicare rebates sent to his bank account. The text had a hyperlink and directed him to a fake Medicare website—a typical phishing scam.

Nick went to the fake Medicare website. The website looked convincing and asked for his Medicare card number, personal information and doctor’s details.

He gave his information, then became concerned that something wasn’t right, so he called the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk. Our staff confirmed it was a phishing scam text and advised him on how to protect himself from the fraud.

Through the new helpdesk, we are supporting our customers and gaining important information about the strategies of scammers.