Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > March 2013 > Identity Theft: 10 Things You Need to Know

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Identity Theft: 10 Things You Need to Know

Does a security breach mean an identity theft has occurred? Does most identity theft happen online? Identity theft is a popular topic, but it’s often misunderstood. To protect yourself, make sure you understand a few key facts and what to do if your identity is stolen.
  1. The Attorney General offers help for identity theft victims. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section launched the Identity Theft Unit in 2012 to help victims repair and recover from the effects of identity theft. The program can help victims correct a damaged credit report or resolve unauthorized accounts. Visit to learn more or to get help.
  1. Identity theft doesn’t just happen online. The Internet can make it easier for thieves to obtain your personal information, but avoiding the Internet completely is not a foolproof way to protect your identity. In fact, some major causes of identity theft, such as a stolen or lost wallet, occur offline.
  1. You can get a free credit report at You have the right to check your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies for free once per year through (You probably will have to pay to check your credit score.) Make sure you visit the true website,, and watch out for look-a-like sites that will charge you for their services.
  1. Identity theft victims should file a police report. If you are a victim of identity theft, filing a police report is an important step to take. You will need a copy of the police report to take advantage of certain rights you have as a victim, and organizations may require a copy of the report in order to help you.
  1. You can “freeze” your credit report. In Ohio, you have the right to place a security freeze on your credit reports. This makes it harder for an imposter to open unauthorized accounts in your name. Each credit reporting agency may charge up to $5 to place, temporarily lift, or remove the freeze. Identity theft victims can place a freeze for free, as long as they can show they are victims of identity theft.
  1. Children can be victims of identity theft. Identity theft does not discriminate by age. In fact, identity thieves may be especially interested in a child’s identity, because children typically do not try to check or access credit. As a result, child identity theft may go undetected for years. In fact, it may not be discovered until the victim applies for college financial aid, a car loan, or employment.
  1. A security breach does not mean identity theft has occurred. If your information is compromised in a data breach, you may be at greater risk for identity theft, but you are not a victim of identity theft unless your information is used fraudulently. Nevertheless, you should take steps to protect yourself, such as monitoring your accounts and placing an alert or freeze on your credit reports.
  1. Clicking links in e-mails could be costly. Even if a message is from someone you know, be very careful about clicking links in e-mails. They could contain viruses or malware that will infect your computer or compromise your e-mail account. Also, be aware that scammers can “spoof” e-mail addresses so that a message that appears to be from a friend is actually from a scammer.
  1. The identity thief may be someone you know. In many cases, identity theft involves individuals who know each other. For example, a friend or family member may obtain your personal information and use it without your knowledge. It is important to always protect your information — even from people you know.
  1. Lending your credit card is not identity theft. There is no identity theft if you give a family member or friend permission to use your credit card, even if the person charges more than you expected. Think twice before lending a friend your credit card or giving a family member access to your accounts. 
For additional information or assistance, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or by calling 800-282-0515.