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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > July 2014 > Ohio Cracks Down on Military Identity Theft

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Ohio Cracks Down on Military Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission ranks identity theft as one of the top military consumer complaints in the nation, prompting Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to push for harsher penalties for those who commit identity fraud and theft against active-duty service members and their spouses.

Effective Sept. 16, amendments to Ohio’s identity fraud, theft, and securing writings by deception statutes increase penalties for felons who target active-duty service members or their spouses. Until now, the felony enhancement was reserved only for victims 65 and older or disabled. State Reps. Mike Dovilla, Al Landis, and the late Terry Blair partnered with the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section to develop the legislation.
“These changes will make Ohio one of the toughest states for punishing felons who commit identity fraud against active-duty service members,” Attorney General DeWine said. “I applaud the Governor and the General Assembly for recognizing the importance of this issue. Military service members and their families sacrifice so much to protect our country, and it’s our job to do all we can to protect them.”
The changes also create a private right of action for all identity fraud victims, allowing them to pursue civil lawsuits against offenders and potentially recover up to $5,000 for each violation or three times the amount of actual damages, whichever is greater.
Another protection afforded to active-duty service members allows them to place an active-duty alert on their credit report. This informs creditors of the service member’s status and requires creditors to take action to verify the service member’s identity before issuing credit. An active-duty alert also deletes service members’ contact information from pre-approved credit offers for two years, preventing identity thieves from stealing the offers from service members’ mailboxes and using them to apply for credit.
Since many service members are overseas or difficult to contact for similar reasons, a credit reporting agency may permit another individual (such as an immediate family member) to place or lift an active-duty alert. Active-duty alerts are free and last for one year.
To place an active-duty alert on a credit report, service members must contact one of the three credit reporting companies, which will notify the other two:
  • Equifax: 800-525-6285
  • Experian: 888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 800-680-7289
Consumers who have issues with identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting