Identity thieves should think twice before striking in Clermont County.
Identity theft, which is rapidly becoming a common type of fraud, occurs when a person uses someone else’s personal information to obtain credit or avoid criminal liability.
As a part of the ongoing efforts of state and county law enforcement in combating this type of growing crime, the Ohio State Attorney General’s Office has taken action with a new identity theft verification program.
This new Passport program gives victims of identity theft a new method of demonstrating or verifying to law enforcement officials and creditors that their identity has indeed been stolen.
Up until now, victims of this crime have had very few ways to establish their innocence and thereby gain back control over their personal information.
The New Richmond Police Department, in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office, started the new passport training two weeks ago.
Under the new Passport program, victims who have had their purse or wallet stolen, or any other missing personal information, must first file an official police report. Once that has been completed, a Passport application is filled out (which includes a webcam photograph, an electronic fingerprint, and an electronic signature).
The police officer then provides the victim with identify theft materials and assists in filing the passport application. The police report and the application are sent to the Attorney General's Office and a Passport card is issued and sent to the victim.
At this point, any attempt to use this identity will be immediately identified as fraudulent activity, giving law enforcement officers and creditors a chance to check the established on-file identifiers and thwart a new identity theft crime.
New Richmond has reported a total of two identity theft crimes in recent months. The Clermont County Sheriff's Office received a total of 44 reports of identity theft in 2006; this number does not include the 15 other county law enforcement agencies.
"Out of those 44 reported, we made four arrests," said Sheriff Tim Rodenberg. "Sixteen were inactivated for a lack of evidence and 20 were closed due to administrative errors."
Although the Sheriff's office concludes that identity theft is not a significant problem in Clermont at this time, they do recognize that identity thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated in their approaches to the crime.
"That is why we and other county police departments are working with the Attorney General's Office on this new passport program," the sheriff said. "It will decrease the amount of time that victims have to spend on clearing their good name and to ultimately clean up the mess that the identity thieves have left behind."
The new passport program not only assists law enforcement officials, but most importantly provides victims with a sense of security and peace of mind.
The New Richmond Police Department will offer the training program to any law enforcement agency in the county who chooses to train their personnel.
The Ohio Department of Justice has provided a grant for the program in the hopes that other states will follow the lead set by Ohio in combating identity theft.