OHIO – December is considered Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency received 4.8 million identity theft and fraud reports in 2020, a 53% increase from 2019, of which 29% are repeat victims.
“Identity theft is the first type of consumer fraud in the United States,” said Sherry Maxfield, director of the Ohio Department of Commerce (ODC). “So far, the Federal Trade Commission reports that Ohio has more than 33,000 identity theft reports, 16% of which are directly related to credit card fraud.”
ODC officials offer the following tips to protect personal and financial information from online fraudsters:
• Before providing personal or financial information, verify that you are interacting with a reputable and established provider.
• Credit cards offer a level of fraud protection that you might not get when using debit cards, and their providers are likely to notice impersonation activity before you do. Don’t let the website “remember” your card information.
• Some credit cards offer features that give you additional levels of protection when you shop online. For example, some issuers provide virtual card numbers, which generate a 16-digit number. Additionally, many credit cards also allow you to set up account alerts, which can notify you if any purchases you make appear suspicious or exceed a certain amount.
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft or other cyber fraud activity, contact:
the Cleveland Division of the FBI at 216-522-1400 or the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov;
√ the fraud department of your bank, credit card issuers and any other place where you have accounts; and
√ one of the top three credit bureaus to place fraud alerts or freezes on your accounts. Get copies of your credit reports to make sure no one has ever tried to get unauthorized credit accounts with your personal information. Confirm that the credit reporting agency will alert the other two credit reporting agencies.
To file a complaint against a state chartered bank, credit union, or consumer credit corporation, call the Financial Institutions Division Office of Consumer Affairs at 866-278-0003.
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