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Identity theft looms

Benjamin Franklin was credited for saying, “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”

While most of us dread tax season, whether we like it or not, it is upon us. And unfortunately for some, the prospect of identity theft rears its ugly head.

Last year, the Ohio Department of Taxation intercepted more than 60,000 suspicious returns that cumulatively claimed over $250 million worth of invalid refunds. That’s a substantial increase over the nearly 10,000 questionable returns the department received in 2013 that sought some $8 million in refunds, according to the Ohio Attorney General.

The Ohio AG offers these tips to help protect oneself from identify fraud:

• Check your mail and watch for notifications that you’ve been affected by a data breach.

• Monitor your bank accounts; look for suspicious activity.

• Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion – to place an initial fraud alert.

• Check your credit report. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com – you’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

• Beware of breach-related scams. For example, a con artist may pose as a representative from the organization that was breached to persuade you to reveal your personal information.

If you feel you’re a victim of identify theft, notify the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit at 800-282-0515 or visit the website at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov for more information.