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Identity Theft 411

The Ohio Attorney General’s office released a two-page report outlining the basics of identity theft.

identity theft pic of laptop

There are many types of identity theft.

Identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s personal identifying information—like their name, identifying number or credit card number—and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes.

Common types of identity theft

  • Financial identity theft: Someone opens an account or takes out a loan in your name.
  • Tax identity theft: Someone files taxes in your name, usually claiming a refund.
  • Medical identity theft: Someone uses your information to access medical services, procedures or prescription drugs.
  • Criminal identity theft: Someone uses your information when they are arrested.

Prevention tips

  • Never share personal information with anyone who contacts you unexpectedly or with somebody you don’t know or trust.
    • Most legitimate businesses will not call you unexpectedly to ask for personal information. Scammers may try to get your information by posing as a legitimate organization—such as your bank or the IRS. They may even use official-looking logos or alter caller ID to appear legitimate. When in doubt, contact the organization at a phone number you know to be right. Ask whether someone there has tried to contact you. If the answer is no, the call was a scam.
  • Consider placing an initial fraud alert or a security freeze on your credit report.
  • Never carry unnecessary personal information—such as your Social Security card—in your wallet or purse.
  • Shred all outdated documents containing personal information; don’t just throw them in the trash.
  • Regularly update your computer software and mobile apps.
  • Use internet passwords that are hard to guess and change them regularly. Passwords should be at least 12 characters and include capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Set a passcode on your smartphone.
  • When entering personal information online, make sure a website is secure by looking for the “s” in “https.”
  • Don’t conduct private business on public WiFi.
  • Make copies of your credit cards, and store them securely so you can call to cancel them quickly if they go missing.
  • If a bill fails to arrive, contact the company as soon as you notice its delay; thieves sometimes steal information from mailboxes or reroute others’ bills.
credit report

It is important to regularly check your credit report.

Signs of identity theft

  • You find inaccurate personal information or unfamiliar accounts on your credit report.
  • You are contacted by collectors about debts you do not owe.
  • You no longer receive certain mail, or you receive mail related to unfamiliar accounts.
  • You are denied credit for no apparent reason.
  • You experience a sudden drop in your credit score.
  • You receive bills that you do not recognize.

How to respond to identity theft

  • Review your entire credit report.
  • File a police report.
  • Place an initial fraud alert on your credit file.

Important resources

  • Ohio Attorney General’s Office
    • 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
    • The Consumer Protection Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has an Identity Theft Unit whose members will work with you to help rectify the effects of identity theft. A consumer advocate will work with credit agencies, creditors, collectors or other organizations on your behalf.
  • Annual Credit Report
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Credit reporting agencies

Source: Ohio Attorney General

For more information or assistance, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call 800-282-0515.