The number of times a Queenslander can legally change their names will be capped to three in a bid to stamp out identity fraud and wrongdoing under new laws to be to introduced next year, InQueensland can reveal.
Currently a person born or adopted in Queensland with appropriate documentation can legally change their name every twelve months at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM).
Queensland’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General said additional restrictions will reduce the risk of the name change system being used for “fraudulent or improper purposes” under the new Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2023 (BDMR Act).
“For example, subject to limited exceptions, an adult cannot change their name more than three times,’’ a departmental spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the RBDM Registrar will also be given a new legislative power to conduct an inquiry where fraud is suspected in relation to a person’s application.
“The RBDM will review its policies and processes in relation to name changes as part of implementing the new legislation,’’ the spokesperson said.
InQueensland has learned a convicted fraudster legally changed his name four times over several years with the RBDM and was convicted of defrauding banks using one of those names .
Following the conviction and while on a suspended sentence, he then allegedly changed his changed name on two more occasions.
The Department of Justice and Attorney-General declined to comment on whether the man had the legally required written permission from Queensland Corrective Services to change his name after his conviction.
The man is now before the courts accused of committing a multi-million dollar fraud using the legal name changes to create false identities.
The man also allegedly used his own name and a relative’s identity in two separate applications to RBDM. His two applications, each with different dates of birth, were allegedly submitted within months of each other in 2020.
The spokesperson said the RBDM checks prescribed identity documents to establish the applicant’s current legal identity, original birth records, evidence of any previous name changes, and an applicant’s residency in Queensland for overseas applicants.
In relation to anyone in the custody of Corrective Services, applicants must obtain written permission under the relevant legislation before applying to change their name, the spokesperson said.
“It is an offence for a person subject to these requirements to make an application prior to receiving the relevant permission.
“RBDM has information sharing arrangements in place with law enforcement relating to change of name information. RBDM will liaise with these agencies, if a person seeks a name change without a relevant permission,’’ the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson confirmed the RBDM does not access to a database to check
whether an applicant has a criminal history or conviction.
“However, RBDM staff may request evidence of an applicant’s criminal history, such as a National Police Certificate.
“Where RBDM is alerted to the potential misuse of our name change system, an investigation will be conducted, and a referral will be made to law enforcement, where appropriate,’’ the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the Department of Justice and Attorney-General is unable to discuss any matter that relates to individuals.
“However, where RBDM becomes aware of the potential misuse of the life event system, an investigation will be undertaken to determine what action should be taken in relation to the registration in question and the potential criminal conduct, including making necessary referrals and statements for law enforcement,’’ the spokesperson said.