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COLUMBUS, OH (Toledo News Now) -
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced that in its first year, the Identity Theft Unit of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section received more than 600 complaints and helped adjust approximately $250,000 in disputed charges for victims, according to information provided in complaints.
"We created the Identity Theft Unit to help individuals fix problems they couldn't solve on their own," DeWine said. "We know that the recovery process for identity theft victims is often long and frustrating. We want to do all we can to help."
In September 2012, DeWine announced the creation of an Identity Theft Unit within the office's Consumer Protection Section. It helps victims correct problems typically associated with identity theft by working with creditors, collectors, credit reporting agencies, law enforcement, and others on their behalf.
Commonly reported problems to the Identity Theft Unit include:
-Fraudulently opened accounts
This occurs when an imposter uses a victim's personal information to open accounts in the victim's name. Consumers can help identify potential fraudulent charges by checking their credit reports for free each year.
-Tax identity theft
Tax identity theft can occur at the state and federal level and has become more common since direct deposit began. Consumers can help protect themselves by filing their taxes early and researching a tax preparer's reputation.
-Family member identity theft
While any type of identity theft can be devastating, discovering a family member is responsible for the theft can increase the emotional toll on the victim. In these instances, the Identity Theft Unit focuses on resolving the accounts and protecting the victim's credit files.
One consumer who cleared up a fraudulently-opened loan with the assistance of the Identity Theft Unit said, "The work they've put into this has been unbelievable. I think people really take notice of the letterhead of the Attorney General's Office."
Another consumer who received help with a case of mistaken identity said of the Identity Theft Unit, "I really don't know what I would have done without it."
Individuals can choose between the Traditional Assistance Program, where an advocate works on the victim's behalf, and the Self Help Program, where victims receive a guide to correcting the problems on their own. For Traditional Assistance, victims must file a police report.