Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information. For example, a scammer uses your credit card number or opens a line of credit in your name. To spot identity theft:
- Read your medical, bank and credit card statements. If you see something unexpected, like charges you never made, contact the sender immediately. Tell them about the suspicious activity.
- Check your free credit report once a year. To see your free reports, visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call (877) 322-8228. Look for addresses you don’t recognize or accounts you didn’t open. Contact all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) if you find suspicious activity. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your account.
If you are a victim of identity theft
If you think your identity is stolen, you should take these steps:
- Contact each of the three credit bureaus. Ask all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) for a credit freeze. They are required to freeze and unfreeze your credit for free.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission. Go to IdentityTheft.gov or call (877) 438-4338 to submit a report.
If you have more questions, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Their Identity Theft Unit may be able to help you solve issues with creditors and other organizations.
How to prevent identity theft
Defending yourself from identity theft is important. To protect yourself, you should:
- Do not respond to phishing phone calls, emails or texts. Scammers pose as banks, the government or even people you know.
- Leave your credit cards at home when you are not using them.
- Keep your social security card in a safe place at home.
- Shred documents that have personal information on them before throwing them away.
- On the internet, only make purchases on secure websites. Keep your computer’s antivirus and security software up to date.
- Set a password or passcode on your cell phone to protect your personal information.