Money and Debt

Identity theft

Anyone can become a victim of identity theft. Read more to learn how to protect your identity and credit.

Did someone use your identity to file an unemployment claim? Please visit, click on the "Report Identity Theft" button, and complete the form so that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services can investigate.

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Understanding the Basics

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Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without permission. 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 or call (877) 322-8228. Look for addresses you don’t recognize or accounts you didn’t open. Contact the 3 major 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 3 major credit bureaus. Ask all 3 major 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 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:

  • 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. 

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