Identity crime costs $1.6 billion each year

UP TO 900,000 Australians have fallen victim to identify theft or crimes, making such crimes more common than robbery, assaults and car theft, a major report has found.

The Attorney-General Department's report, using data from more than 50 Commonwealth and state agencies and the private sector, is the first effort to discover the prevalence of identity crimes in Australia.

It has found the ultimate cost of identity crimes likely exceeds $1.6 billion every year, a conservative estimate as many such crimes go unreported.

Most of those crimes were credit card, where victims each lost less than $1000, while one in 10 victims of identity crimes experienced health problems as a result and one in 17 was wrongly accused of a crime.

The report also cited intelligence reports from the federal police and Department of Foreign Affairs that fake Medicare cards could be bought on the black market for just $80.

It also revealed birth certificates, drivers' licences and "genuinely" issued passports with fraudulent details were also being bought on the black market.

The report will now be issued every year and will help inform operations by federal police against corruption and fraud.