Almost 9,000 Ohioans reported they had their identity stolen last year, and it’s a crime the Clark County Sheriff’s Office sees weekly.
“We get at least two or three a week. (The thieves) live on other people’s information and they steal your information,” Sgt. Scott Elliott said.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 369,132 Americans reported having their personal information stolen last year. Of that, 8,891 were Ohioans.
Local statistics are hard to track, Elliott said, because cases are often forwarded to the FTC or Social Security office for investigation due to the nature of the crime and limited resources.
“Typically you have people from out of state or sometimes out of the country who obtain your personal identifiers: Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden name, that sort of thing,” he said.
The majority of Ohio cases — 41 percent — involve someone stealing personal information to forge government documents. That includes Social Security checks, welfare payments and driver’s licenses. Another common ploy is using the information to apply for loans and open new accounts, which happened in 22 percent of the time, according to the FTC.
To protect yourself, Elliott said residents should never give out their personal information to anyone over the phone or through e-mail. If the person claims to be a police officer, call the local dispatch center and check.
Never send money to unknown people, Elliott added, verify all claims and never cash checks written for more than what’s needed and give someone else the difference. If you suspect someone is “fishing” for information or trying to scam you, make a report with law enforcement, he said.
“Our best advice is, if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true. Nobody gives money away and you shouldn’t be giving money to anybody you don’t know,” he said.