Identity theft has become a growing concern in Ohio and across the United States as it is one of the most costly crimes to consumers and businesses, and is the fastest growing white collar crime in America according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Securing IDs is essential to not only protecting consumers from financial loss and shoring up the world's finest financial system, but also to securing our homeland from criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists. The protection of personal identification and financial records is an important part in preventing such plagues as meth addiction, white collar fraud, and terrorism.
Ohioans should be vigilant to protect themselves and our community from the dangers caused by identity thieves. If you become a victim of ID theft, please contact my office for personal assistance or visit the Federal Trade Commission identity theft website for advice on how to secure your personal data as well as what to do if your identity is stolen.
OnGuardOnline.gov provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information. You can also take their tests to learn how to avoid becoming a victim of phishing, spam, spyware and other online scams.
What can you do to avoid being a victim of identity theft?
- Never give out personal information unless you know who’s asking for it and why they need it
- Get your free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com and review carefully
- Review your bank statements carefully and regularly (Tip: chargeback disputes usually must be within 60 days)
- Shred documents with your information before throwing them away
- Don’t click on links sent in unsolicited email (Example: Email claims someone you know just died)
- If you use a green dot card, never share your pin
- Do not carry all your credit cards with you at one time, only the ones you believe you will be using
Warning signs of ID Theft:
- Denied credit
- Unauthorized charges
- No longer receive mail
- Receive unfamiliar bills
- Debt collectors contact you
- Errors on credit reports!
Resources available for consumers:
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office has created an Identity Theft Unit to help victims of identity theft rectify the effects of identity theft by working with credit reporting agencies, creditors, collectors, and any other entity who may have information that was obtained under fraudulent circumstances and by providing the necessary information to victims of identity theft to remedy the effects themselves. The unit currently offers two programs: Traditional Assistance and Self-Help Assistance. Under Self-Help Assistance, you may eceive a step-by-step guide to attempt to rectify the effects of identity theft yourself. Assistance includes information and form letters to dispute charges and a consumer Advocate to help you navigate the process. Under Traditional Assistance, a consumer advocate will work with creditors, credit agencies, and collectors on your behalf. In order to receive traditional assitance, you must submit a copy of a policy report, identity theft affidavit, and an identity theft notifcation form to the Ohio Attorney General's office. Find more information HERE or contact the office directly at 800-282-0515 www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.
You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Response Center at (877) FTC-HELP/(877) 382-4357 to speak with an FTC counselor for guidance. Find more information on how to protect yourself HERE.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a mail scam, please contact the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) at 1-877-876-2455 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in all time zones, and selectfrom these options:
- Mail service issues [callers are then directed to 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777)]
- Emergency situations
- Mail theft or identity theft issues
- Mail fraud issues
- Postal Inspection Service customer support