Imagine not receiving your tax refund because someone else already obtained it or getting a medical bill for an unfamiliar procedure or prescription. Imagine pulling your credit report only to learn that someone used your personal information to obtain a loan — and now you’re responsible for the payments. These scenarios were realities for many consumers who have contacted the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit.
In September 2012, Attorney General DeWine announced the creation of an Identity Theft Unit within the office’s Consumer Protection Section. Since that time, the unit has received more than 600 complaints and helped to adjust approximately $250,000 in disputed charges for victims, according to information provided in complaints.
The Identity Theft Unit helps victims correct problems typically associated with identity theft by working with creditors, collectors, credit reporting agencies, law enforcement, and others on their behalf. Individuals can choose between the Traditional Assistance Program, through which an advocate works on the victim’s behalf, and the Self Help Program, through which victims receive a guide to correct the problems on their own. For Traditional Assistance, victims must file a police report.
Follow these tips for preventing identity theft:
Check your credit report(s) at www.annualcreditreport.com at least once a year.
Shred documents that contain your personal information.
Monitor your account statements regularly. Report any unfamiliar charges to your bank or credit card company immediately.
Use Internet passwords that are hard to guess and change them regularly. Also, set a passcode on your smartphone.
Update your computer software and mobile applications regularly.
If doing business online, make sure the website is secure. The web address should start with “https.” Never bank or shop online when using a free public Wi-Fi connection.
To learn more or to get help, identity theft victims should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov