MAIL theft is on the rise across Australia.
Once it was about intercepting cheques but now it's about stealing your identity.
Last week NSW Police went public about a sophisticated mail theft ring targeting the identity of residents.
We're not talking about juveniles heading down a path of self-destruction. What NSW Police uncovered was evidence of international organised crime behind the thefts.
In some instances these groups were using master keys to access letterboxes with locks on them. This is in direct conflict to prevention messaging to ensure that we "lock our letterbox".
They are after anything that can be used to exploit someone's identity, such as financial and mobile phone account information, superannuation details and the biggest prize of all, your driver's licence.
Driver's licence numbers can open up many avenues for fraudsters, who can identify the "if found return to ..." addresses on the envelopes that contain licences.
In Queensland if your licence is compromised, whether it be physically stolen or the details on the card have been misused, you cannot get a replacement number. It's yours for life.
Only if the same details can be proven to have been subsequently misused will Queensland Transport and Main Roads ask customers to go through a rather bureaucratic process to apply for a new number.
In other words, in such situations there appears to be no prevention option from the government agencies responsible for the licence when it comes to its compromise, only a reactive one once someone can prove it has been misused.
If you think that's behind the times, count your lucky stars you don't have a NSW licence. For holders of a NSW Roads and Maritime licence there is no avenue available to obtain an alternative licence number, even if the one compromised has been misused a hundred times by criminals.
Criminals must love this. Document-issuing agencies that really assist them to ensure that the licence they've just stolen from the mail in its recognisable envelope - because the envelope itself is trying to be unrecognisable - has a long and profitable life.
For someone who has had their driver's licence compromised, the harm that this will cause far exceeds what they will experience if their credit card is stolen.
At least financial institutions have a response and can take preventative measures - new card, new number.
For driver's licence issuers, an urgent re-think is needed across the country on how they solve this problem in a way that puts the community first.
* Professor David Lacey is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast and managing director of IDCARE.
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