Cabinet enhances its policy to tackle identity fraud

Cabinet intends to take legal measures to get a better grip on identity fraud. In the future, it will be a criminal offence to use someone else’s identity document, such as a driver’s licence or an aliens identity card. At this time, this is only the case for travel documents, such as passports. As a result of this amendment, it will become easier to tackle the so-called lookalike fraud, where a person identifies himself by means of an identity card of a person who looks like him. Dutch government has agreed to this amendment on the basis of the legislative proposal submitted by Mr Opstelten, the Minister of Security and Justice.

The Cabinet makes a choice for one single approach of the improper use of all identity documents listed in the Compulsory Identification Act (Wet op de identificatieplicht) and all other identity documents issued by services or organisations of vital or national importance. These include admission passes for airports or government institutions serving as identity cards at the same, as well as badges used by police officers to provide proof of identity to a citizen or within the police organisation.

Another new element is that a person commits an offence when that person continues to make use of a travel document or any other identity document which he has reported stolen or missing at an earlier time, in order to be able to commit fraud. Or a person continues to use his old document and sells the new one to another person, who may use it to cross the border illegally or make improper use of certain facilities.

The measure is a reaction to the attempts made by frauds to find new ways to feign an identify. As identity cards are much better protected nowadays, it has become more convenient to (continue to) use (supposedly) stolen or missing documents or to sell new documents or made them available to others, instead of forging them. Examples: applying for benefit or a bank account, or to be attended to in a hospital.

The Cabinet will also deal with persons committing fraud with biometric proofs of identity with the intention of using them to abuse another person’s identity. Examples are persons deliberately disfiguring their fingertips, making their fingerprints unsuitable for identification, or persons having operations on their fingertips or face, to acquire a new identity with the intention of abusing that identity. These biometric proofs of identity are increasingly used to establish a person’s identity; the legislative proposal follows this new development. After all, it is of vital importance to have criminal sanctions in place when a person commits fraud with any of these proofs of identity.

The Council of Ministers has agreed to submit the legislative proposal to the Council of State for its advice. The text of the legislative proposal and of the advice rendered by the Council of State will be made public when they are submitted to parliament.