Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > October 2012 > Tips to Protect Your Identity

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Tips to Protect Your Identity

National Protect Your Identity Week, set for Oct. 20–27, is a great time to consider how to protect your personal information from fraud. 
To guard your personal information:
  • Carry only the number of credit cards that you need for a specific outing. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place at home. 
  • Ask doctors, businesses, and other organizations not to identify you by your Social Security number. 
  • Don’t give out your personal information unless you initiate the contact and you trust the individual or organization involved.
  • If you are doing business online, make sure the website is secure. Normally, a Web address begins with the letters “http.” A secure connection should begin with “https.” Also make sure your anti-virus, firewall, and other personal computer security applications are up-to-date.
  • Shred all documents that contain personal information before you dispose of them.
  • Keep copies of credit cards (front and back) in a safe place so you will be able to call and cancel them quickly if they are stolen or compromised.
  • Check your credit report(s) at least once a year. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report at or 877-322-8228. If you notice suspicious or inaccurate activity, contact the appropriate credit reporting agency immediately. If you have trouble correcting errors on your credit report, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
  • Review your medical, bank, and credit card statements thoroughly upon receipt and notify the provider or institution of any discrepancies.
Keep in mind that even if your personal information is lost or stolen, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a victim of identity theft. 
For example, let’s say a business data breach compromises the credit card numbers of thousands of its customers. Although the customers should take precautions to protect their personal information from further compromise, they are not victims of identity theft unless or until their personal information is used fraudulently. 
Similarly, if your wallet and credit cards are stolen, you should report the theft to the police, contact your credit card provider, and take other steps to protect yourself. But you are not a victim of identity theft unless the thief uses your personal information.
If you do become a victim of identity theft:
  • Contact local law enforcement and file a police report. 
  • Close any accounts that have been compromised or opened in your name without your consent. Call each bank or company and then follow up in writing.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report(s) by contacting one of the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax (, 800-525-6285), Experian (, 888-397-3742), and TransUnion (, 800-680-7289).
  • File an identity theft notification form with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to seek help from the Consumer Protection Section’s Identity Theft Unit.
  • Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at or by calling 877-ID-THEFT.