2010 Identity Theft PASSPORT Program Report | Identity Theft | Federal Trade Commission

November 1, 2010

Re: Fiscal 2010 Identity Theft Annual Report

The Honorable Ted Strickland Governor, State of Ohio 77 S. High St., 30th Floor Columbus, OH 43215 The Honorable Bill Harris President, Ohio Senate 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor Columbus, OH 43215 The Honorable Armond Budish Speaker, Ohio House of Representatives 77 S. High St., 14th Floor Columbus, OH 43215 The Honorable Capri Cafaro Minority Leader, Ohio Senate 1 Capitol Square, 3rd Floor Columbus, OH 43215 The Honorable William Batchelder Minority Leader, Ohio House of Representatives 77 S. High St., 14th Floor Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Colleagues, Identity theft is one of the most pervasive crimes in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission estimates it strikes nearly 10 million U.S. consumers and imposes $50 billion in unnecessary costs on the nation’s businesses each year. This fiscal 2010 Identity Theft Annual Report details my office’s work to provide information, education and support on this topic to Ohio consumers and law enforcement agencies. As you know, identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another individual’s personal data in a fraudulent or deceptive way, typically for economic gain. The scope of the problem is difficult to gauge, especially because many more people are known to be victimized by identity theft than to report it.

However, one thing is certain: The toll is heavy. Americans spend an estimated 300 million hours annually addressing the fallout when their personal information — contained in credit card and utility statements, bank records, tax returns, medical documents and more — slips into the hands of identity thieves. The FTC received 7,525 identity theft complaints from Ohioans in 2009, an 8.6 percent decline from the 2008 figure. The decline followed a national trend that saw total identity theft complaints filed with the FTC fall 11.5 percent, from 314,484 in 2008 to 278,078 in 2009. Ohio ranked 29th per capita among the states in 2009, with 65.2 identity theft complaints filed with the FTC per 100,000 people. In contrast, Florida ranked first with 122.3 complaints and South 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 complaints filed with the FTC. The three Ohio areas with the highest number of complaints per capita were Akron, 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 in 2009, accounting for 27 percent of all complaints. The other common types of complaints were credit card fraud, 16 percent; government documents or benefits fraud, 12 percent; bank fraud, 9 percent; employment-related fraud, 6 percent; and loan fraud, 4 percent. All other types of fraud combined accounted for 22 percent of the complaints, while 6 percent of the filings involved attempted identity theft. An early leader in helping citizens cope with identity theft, Ohio was among the first states in the nation to create an Identity Theft Verification Passport Program to help victims deal with the aftermath of identity theft. My Identity Theft Unit (part of the Crime Victims Assistance and Prevention Section) runs the program, which provides participants with a wallet-sized card that verifies their status as an identity 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 to assist victims through the Passport program. Approximately 860 of Ohio’s 980 law enforcement agencies 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 against identity theft: • • The Identity Theft Unit responded to more than 1,800 phone inquiries, mostly from victims or potential victims seeking help in responding to specific incidents. The unit conducted more than 70 identity theft prevention and Passport presentations for law enforcement, financial institutions, senior groups, community organizations and victim advocates across the state.

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The Attorney General’s Office issued 83 Passport cards, bringing the total number distributed since the program’s inception in 2004 to 1,633. My office makes available to consumers statewide an Identity Theft Repair Kit, which provides valuable information, guidance and checklists for avoiding and recovering from identity theft.

While our progress is encouraging, we are keenly aware that we need to do more to help Ohioans prevent identity theft and to deal with it effectively when it does occur. My office’s Identity Theft and Consumer Protection units will continue their statewide outreach to educate citizens on this debilitating crime and how to avoid being victimized.


Richard Cordray Ohio Attorney General

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