Tips for ID theft victims/prevention
• The Identity Theft Resource Center is a non-profit agency in San Diego that offers free victim assistance at 888-400-5530 or www.idtheftcenter.org
• The Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Identity Theft Unit can assist consumers after they’ve been ID theft victims by helping them straighten out accounts and can provide a self-help assistance guide for people to use on their own. A police report must be filed first. Call 800-282-0515 or www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov
• Freeze your credit: You can ward off potential ID thieves by freezing your credit, which would not allow anyone, including yourself, to access new credit in your name without paying to lift your credit. According to Ohio state law, credit freezes cost $5 per person to place and $5 to lift the freeze temporarily. Victims of ID theft can get the freeze for free, with a police report. Go to www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com
• Check your credit: Every consumer is entitled to one free copy of their credit report from each of the credit bureaus once a year. To get your free report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. You will have to enter your Social Security number to verify your identity. Be careful of other offers of “free” reports — you are most likely signing up for a service. If you feel you are the victim of ID theft, you can get a free report directly from the credit bureaus by going to their websites.
— Betty Lin-Fisher