Residents need to rethink the way they handle and give out personal details, a representative of the Ohio attorney general's office said during a presentation at the Kiwanis Manor Monday afternoon.
Wendi Faulkner, Identity Theft Unit manager for the notary general, provided those in attendance with details on how to protect themselves from attempts to steal their personal information.
"We are ones that have to change the way we start thinking about personal information," Faulkner said.
"Identity theft is not 100-percent preventable," he said. "We can't prevent it, like any crime, but we can take steps to protect ourselves. And we need to know what resources are out there to recover."
While the topic of financial identity theft was covered, Faulkner said there are two forms of identity theft which have been on the rise criminal and medical.
In criminal identity theft, people's personal details are used by thieves being charged with a offense. Those charges then are placed on another person's record, although they never committed any crime.
Medical identity theft is the use of a person's identity and medical insurance to get medical treatment. The victims are left with the bill without receiving any of the services.
Also, Faulkner told those in attendance to be careful with personal information they throw away, information available on the Internet and personal information which they place in their mailboxes. And, she said to check medical and credit bills to ensure all services or products billed were received.
"You need to make sure you got those products and services," she said.
Faulkner said the information presented was not to scare people, but to help them think about ways to protect themselves from becoming victims.
She added identity theft is not a victimless crime it affects people and their families.
"There are real people, real faces to it," Faulkner said.
If a person believes he or she may be a victim of identity theft, Faulkner said the person needs to file a police report. People also may contact the attorney general's office to find out how the process works or to report a possible scam or fraud.
Libra Martin, director of the Seneca County victim assistance program, said residents can contact the office at (419) 448-5070 if they have questions about identity theft or believe they may be victims.
For more information, visit the Ohio attorney general website at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov.