6.3.5 Proof of Identity
Proof of identity checks help DHS comply with privacy law and the child support secrecy provisions that require the protection of the personal information of child support parents and carers.
Need to prove identity or authority
DHS requires proof of identity from parents, carers and their authorised representatives to avoid the possibility of disclosing protected information to a person who is not entitled to receive it.
DHS's proof of identity requirements are based on the following principles:
- all personal information is equally important, protected and private,
identifying information that would be known to a person other than the person to whom the information relates, is not sufficient on its own and must be accompanied by additional information,
- it is harder to identify someone on the telephone, so telephone identification procedures need to be precise.
When speaking with a person (either in person or by telephone) DHS officers will ask for the person's name and date of birth or child support reference number or case number in order to access their details. The officer will also ask some questions to verify the person's identity before providing protected or personal information about their case. A child support reference number or case number isn't mandatory but enables prompt identification. The proof of identity process may take longer without a child support reference number or case number. In the absence of information sufficient to prove a person's identity, DHS may not be satisfied that the person is a child support paying parent or a payee.
DHS cannot require a person to provide their tax file number (TFN). TFNs are protected under subdivision BA of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and the Tax File Number Guidelines. The Tax File Number Guidelines prohibit the use of TFNs to establish or confirm the identity of an individual for any purpose not authorised by taxation, personal assistance or superannuation law.
Inability to prove identity or authority
DHS does not need to establish the identity of a person before providing general information to them (e.g. information about the child support scheme, or the methods the Registrar uses to collect child support). However, DHS will not provide personal or protected information to a person if their identity cannot be established.
If a person cannot provide sufficient proof of identity, a DHS officer will explain that DHS has an obligation to protect the privacy of individuals and they cannot disclose or discuss any protected information to that person. As an alternative, the officer may:
- in the case of a telephone call, confirm the person's identity by returning the call to the person's telephone number held on the records or in the telephone book, or
- send details specific to a person's affairs to the person's postal address.
If DHS cannot verify that a third party is acting as an authorised representative, the required information may be provided by telephoning or writing to the paying parent or payee.
DHS tries to provide a high level of service to all people. This includes protecting the privacy and security of personal information. Every effort is made to assist a person who contacts DHS. However, the assistance sought may not be able to be provided immediately if DHS cannot be satisfied of the person's identity at that time.