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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > March 2013 > Identity Theft Victims Turn to Law Enforcement, New Program

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Identity Theft Victims Turn to Law Enforcement, New Program

Identity theft is difficult to prevent. It’s often not until money is stolen that a victim — let alone law enforcement — knows his identity was taken. But there are ways Ohio peace officers can help ID theft victims, including knowing the services available to assist them. One valuable resource is the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which provides a program specifically tailored to reduce the impact of ID theft.

In 2012, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section launched a new Identity Theft Unit to help victims address the effects of identity theft, such as fixing credit report errors or clearing up fraudulent accounts. More than 300 individuals already have sought help through the new program.
In general, identity theft occurs when someone’s personal information is fraudulently used. For example, an imposter may use a victim’s personal information to obtain credit, take out a loan, open a utility account, receive medical treatment, or otherwise pretend to be the victim.
The Identity Theft Unit offers two programs:
Traditional Assistance
  • A consumer advocate will work with credit agencies, creditors, collectors, or other organizations on the victim’s behalf to rectify the effects of identity theft.
  • Individuals must have filed a police report to participate in this program.
  • This option is ideal for those who are not comfortable trying to correct the effects of identity theft on their own.
Self-Help Assistance
  • Victims receive a step-by-step guide to rectify the effects of identity theft themselves.
  • The guide includes necessary contact information and form letters to dispute information on credit reports, dispute charges, or take other action.
  • This option is ideal for those who prefer to work at their own pace and contact credit reporting agencies and creditors themselves.
  • A police report is not required for this program but may be helpful for the victim.
Law enforcement agencies should recognize that filing a police report is an important step for most victims of identity theft. Individuals will need a copy of the police report to take advantage of certain rights they have as identity theft victims, and organizations may require a copy of the report in order to assist.
The new Identity Theft Unit helps individuals correct a variety of problems, regardless of how the problem began. In a recent case, the Identity Theft Unit helped an Ohio man who was pulled over for a minor traffic violation by a Grove City police officer. The officer informed him that multiple out-of-state warrants containing his Social Security number may have been filed in his name. The man took the officer’s advice and contacted the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit.
Following a lead, the Identity Theft Unit contacted Colorado authorities, who confirmed the Ohio man did not have existing warrants there but said there were open warrants in Michigan. Michigan State Police verified the warrants, found they were the result of a clerical error, and quickly remedied the mistake.
Although the identity mix-up was the result of an error, not theft, the Identity Theft Unit was able to expeditiously rectify the situation at the state and federal levels.
Law enforcement agencies should be aware that the new Identity Theft Unit is part of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section, not the Crime Victim Services Section, and has replaced the PASSPORT Program, which is no longer in operation. Additionally, the PASSPORT Program phone number no longer leads to the Attorney General’s Office, and law enforcement agencies should not direct victims to that number.  
Consumers and law enforcement can receive information about the new Identity Theft Unit by contacting the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or visiting