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Attorney General Says Beware Identity Theft
Posted on: 10/22/2012
By  Mike Cullums
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has joined the Better Business Bureau in recognizing National Protect Your Identity Week by urging Ohioans to guard their personal information. DeWine also reminded those who may be victims of identity theft that he has started an Identity Theft Unit located within the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section to offer assistance to victims.

National Protect Your Identity Week, Oct. 20-27, is a public-private initiative to increase awareness of the threat of identity theft, what can be done to fight it, and what consumers can do if they become victims. A report released by Javelin Strategy and Research reports that in 2011 identity fraud increased by 13 percent. About 11.6 million Americans became victims of identity theft last year – a number equal to the entire population of Ohio.
The Attorney General has provided a list of top consumer prevention tips.  
    Keep personal data private - At home, at work, and on your mobile devices, secure your personal and financial records in a locked storage device or behind a password. Avoid mailing checks to pay bills. Use online bill payment on a secure Internet connection instead, and use direct deposit for payroll checks.
    While social networks are popular, be careful about publicly exposing personal information that is typically used for authentication (full birthday, high school name). This applies to all social networks.
    Use mobile devices responsibly - Mobile devices are a treasure trove of information for fraudsters. The "always on" functionality of mobile devices provides fraudsters with new avenues for securing information. Be sure of the applications you download, the data you share over public Wi-Fi, and where you leave your device.
    Ask questions - Before providing any information on mobile phones, social media sites or transaction sites, determine who is asking for the information. Ask: Why do you need it? How is the information being used? If volunteering information, ask yourself if you have more to gain than to lose by sharing personal and unnecessary details.
    If you are doing business online, make sure the site is secure and 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 if they are stolen 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.
    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 is they are stolen.
    Check your credit history at least once a year using www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. If you notice suspicious activity, contact the appropriate credit bureau immediately. Review your medical, bank, and credit card statements thoroughly upon receipt and notify the provider/institution of any discrepancies.
For more information, or if you believe you may be a victim of identity theft, go to OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call the AG's help desk at 800-282-0515. Consumers can also visit their local Better Business Bureau online at www.bbb.org. Washington and Wood counties are served by the BBB's Canton office. 
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