Preventing identity misuse

Your personal identity is your key to society. It enables you to access public services, such as healthcare and education services, and to receive social benefits. You also need your personal identity to start up a business. The identity of a business, in turn, is linked to various rights and obligations.

Identity misuse causes much damage, not only to individual persons and companies but also to society at large. The misuse of identities is an international problem.

The Tax Administration has long participated in international cooperation to combat identity misuse, working together with other Nordic tax authorities and with other authorities and organisations in Finland.

View the training "Follow the Identity", which consists of four videos:

  1. What is an identity
  2. Impact on society
  3. Risk indicators
  4. How can we act

Everyone can help prevent identity misuse. The videos tell you about problems and crime associated with identity misuse, and suggest how you can detect misuse.

"Follow the Identity" – the training on preventing and combatting identity misuse – was drafted and implemented by the ID Criminality project of Nordisk Agenda, a cooperation network of Nordic tax authorities. The objective of the cooperation is to provide information about problems and crime associated with identity misuse.

The videos are in English. You can select Finnish, Swedish or English subtitles by clicking CC.

1. What is an identity

In the Nordic countries, each person has one real identity. The personal ID remains the same from cradle to grave. Reliable identities are important from the point of view of individuals, family relations and the welfare society. An individual with a personal ID has many rights in Finland. For example, they are entitled to healthcare services, social benefits and pension-based income. If a person’s identity is registered incorrectly in the Population Information System, the person has more than one identity or a false identity, the institutions of our society run into problems. Further, nobody should have to suffer the threat of being exposed to theft or misuse of their identity.

2. Impact on society

False identities are increasingly often used to commit crime especially in the Nordic countries. Focus is on different types of economic crime and social benefit fraud. A fraudulent operator using a false identity remains anonymous, which makes it difficult to detect and investigate the cases. Having a false identity also makes it possible to avoid legal obligations and payment liabilities. A single person or party using multiple false identities can commit crimes with significant economic impact. Furthermore, some cases of misuse are never detected. Identity can be misused in various ways, and criminals constantly come up with new ones.

3. Risk indicators

Fraudulent operators exploit vulnerabilities in the authorities’ systems and processes. Various authorities and organisations may detect risk indicators pointing to identity misuse. It is important to note that the indicators may be different in different cases. It is also important to investigate the matter if any unusual activity is detected. Ask yourself what a risk indicator could be in your organisation.

4. How can we act

The objective of the cooperation and the experiences shared by the tax authorities in the Nordic countries is to provide information about identity misuse and prevent or limit related crime. In addition to providing information, it is important that the processes are in place and that the cooperation between authorities is effective if and when misuse is detected.

Increased awareness protects both citizens and society from criminal operators. Authorities and organisations must realise their role in the prevention of identity misuse and take corrective action. It is important to be able to identify an individual in a reliable manner.

Thank you for watching our videos. You can give us feedback or tell about your own experiences by completing the survey.

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