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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2020 > Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Unfortunately, in today’s world, the odds are pretty good that you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft. The upside is that Ohioans can proactively take steps to help secure their personal information.

The Consumer Protection Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office offers these tips to help you avoid falling victim to the crime of identity theft:
  • Never share personal information with anyone who contacts you unexpectedly.
  • Consider placing an initial fraud alert or a security freeze on your credit report (more on that below).
  • Never carry unnecessary personal information, such as your Social Security card, in your wallet or purse.
  • Shred all outdated documents containing personal information.
  • 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.
For consumers using internet-connected devices at home, around town and/or while traveling:
  • Don’t conduct private business on public Wi-Fi.
  • Regularly update your computer software and mobile apps.
  • Use internet passwords that are long and difficult to guess, and change them regularly.
  • Set a passcode on your smartphone.
  • When entering personal information online, make sure a website is secure by looking for the “s” in “https.”
Checking your credit report is also important in the fight against identity theft. Due to COVID-19, you are able to receive one free credit report per week from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies through April 2021. For details, visit

You may also wish to place an initial fraud alert or security freeze on your credit reports. The initial fraud alert will last for one year, can be canceled at any time and is renewable. An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open accounts in your name, and you should be notified if there are any attempts to open new accounts using your personal information. You need to contact only one of the three national credit-reporting agencies to place an alert; that agency then will contact the other two agencies. You may contact one of the following: You may also consider placing a security freeze on your credit reports. This prohibits a credit-reporting agency from releasing information on your credit report without your express authorization or approval. A credit freeze is designed to prevent an impostor from using your information to be approved for credit, loans or services in your name.

If you wish to freeze your credit with all three of the credit-reporting agencies, you must send a request to each agency. You can request a temporary lifting of the credit freeze at any time. There are no charges to place, temporarily lift or remove a credit freeze.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has an Identity Theft Unit whose members help to rectify the effects of identity theft. A consumer advocate will work with credit agencies, creditors, collectors or other organizations on your behalf.

If you need assistance as an identity theft victim or if you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.