However, one thing is certain: The toll is heavy. Americans spend an estimated 300 millionhours annually addressing the fallout when their personal information — contained in credit cardand utility statements, bank records, tax returns, medical documents and more — slips into thehands of identity thieves.The FTC received 7,525 identity theft complaints from Ohioans in 2009, an 8.6 percent declinefrom the 2008 figure. The decline followed a national trend that saw total identity theftcomplaints filed with the FTC fall 11.5 percent, from 314,484 in 2008 to 278,078 in 2009.Ohio ranked 29
per capita among the states in 2009, with 65.2 identity theft complaints filedwith the FTC per 100,000 people. In contrast, Florida ranked first with 122.3 complaints andSouth Dakota ranked last with 29.1 complaints per 100,000 people.None of Ohio’s metropolitan areas was among the top 100 nationwide in terms of complaintsfiled with the FTC. The three Ohio areas with the highest number of complaints per capita wereAkron, which ranked 115th;
Springfield, 126th; and Wooster, 137th.Phone and utilities fraud was the No. 1 type of identity theft Ohioans reported to the FTC in2009, accounting for 27 percent of all complaints. The other common types of complaints werecredit card fraud, 16 percent; government documents or benefits fraud, 12 percent; bank fraud, 9percent; employment-related fraud, 6 percent; and loan fraud, 4 percent. All other types of fraudcombined accounted for 22 percent of the complaints, while 6 percent of the filings involvedattempted identity theft.An early leader in helping citizens cope with identity theft, Ohio was among the first states in thenation to create an Identity Theft Verification Passport Program to help victims deal with theaftermath of identity theft.My Identity Theft Unit (part of the Crime Victims Assistance and Prevention Section) runs theprogram, which provides participants with a wallet-sized card that verifies their status as anidentity theft victim. The card — when presented to law enforcement, financial institutions,creditors and others — can help victims resolve problems more quickly.Since the Passport program was introduced in Ohio in late 2004, Attorney General’s Office staff members have conducted 982 training sessions for Ohio law enforcement personnel on how toassist victims through the Passport program. Approximately 860 of Ohio’s 980 law enforcementagencies have the equipment used to create Passport IDs for victims.Here is a look at some other telling developments during fiscal 2010 in my office’s fight againstidentity theft:
The Identity Theft Unit responded to more than 1,800 phone inquiries, mostly fromvictims or potential victims seeking help in responding to specific incidents.
The unit conducted more than 70 identity theft prevention and Passport presentations forlaw enforcement, financial institutions, senior groups, community organizations andvictim advocates across the state.