Do This Today: Protections Against Identity Theft

Maryland’s Attorney General shares simple steps that every county citizen can take to reduce the chances of identity theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in the country.

In a panel at MACo’s Summer Conference, Attorney General Brian Frosh, Deputy Comptroller Sharonne Bonardi, and AARP Maryland Advocacy Director Tammy Bresnahan spoke about identity theft and shared examples from their own lives and work.

The Honorable James N. Mathias, Jr. Maryland Senate, moderated the panel, and shared a story of his friend’s mother who had recently been the victim of costly identity theft.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh recounts his personal experience with identity theft, stating, “If they can steal the Attorney General’s identity, they can steal yours.”

The Attorney General shared the work of his office in helping victims of identity theft, but focused on preventative tips. Advice from the Attorney General included:

  • Freeze your credit and your children’s credit.
  • Shred financial documents before you throw them away.
  • Sign up for the do-not-call list.
  • Check your credit regularly.
  • Use strong passwords and change them frequently.

Deputy Comptroller Bonardi described their use of geospatial analytics to look for trends that lead to fraudulent tax preparers. She also spoke about the need for the Taxpayer Protection Act, legislation that her office will introduce this year. Bonardi also shared a quiz that the Comptroller’s Office will be using to test the identity of those preparing tax returns when the returns look suspicious.

Tammy Bresnahan of AARP Maryland spoke about the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, an information resource for the public. She described typical techniques used by con artists, and even played tapes from phone calls by con artists seeking to steal identities of vulnerable adults, including older adults.