Centrelink ‘tightens security’ as identity theft crimes to access welfare payments grow

Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s remains were found in the Belanglo Forest in NSW in 2010, while the remains of her daughter Khandalyce, believed to be aged about two, were found near a suitcase alongside the Karoonda Highway in South Australia’s Murray Mallee earlier this year.

A 41-year-old man has been charged over the alleged murder of Ms Pearce-Stevenson, while inquiries into who is responsible for Khandalyce’s death are continuing.

Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s bank account is believed to have been accessed from four states over several years and her Centrelink benefits were also fraudulently claimed.

Centrelink’s Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen said payments to Ms Pearce-Stevenson were cancelled in 2011 after detecting an issue.

“Due to this being an active investigation I am unable to go into the specific details,” Mr Jongen said.

“However, the payments were stopped in early 2011 because the department’s control system successfully identified a payment-affecting issue.”

Senior research fellow at the University of Adelaide, Dr Malcolm Pattinson, said criminals could still easily exploit security holes in financial institutions.

“Organisational security and that includes the financial institutions isn’t good enough,” he said.

“There needs to be more security, more levels of identification I think in order to prevent these growing incidents of security breaches and identity theft.”

Mr Jongen, said security within Centrelink was being tightened.

“The department investigates all allegations of serious fraud,” he said.

“To address identity crime more generally, the department has a dedicated team of specialists who use sophisticated data-matching and detection technologies to combat identity-related fraud.

“Controls are also being further strengthened through implementation of the Document Verification Service, which enables us to verify a range of identity documents with the originating agency in real time.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-29/identity-theft-to-access-welfare-payments-growing/6893918

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