OGDEN -- The overall frequency of identity theft has dropped in the Top of Utah, but a specific type of the crime is growing across the state.
The number of identity theft complaints in the Ogden-Clearfield metropolitan statistical area has steadily dropped every year since at least 2008, according to an annual Federal Trade Commission report.
There were 287 complaints in 2011; 2008 saw 457.
That puts the region low on the country's list of largest metropolitan areas affected by the crime. Ogden-Clearfield is ranked 304 out of 384.
Though identity theft complaints are on the decline in the Ogden-Clearfield area, the same isn't true for fraud and all of the other types of complaints the FTC receives.
In the area, those numbers have fluctuated since 2008 and are now at their highest since then, with 2,031 complaints in 2011.
The Ogden-Clearfield region has about the same ranking for all other fraud complaints as it does for identity theft: 311 out of 384.
Fraud related to government documents and benefits, including taxes, accounted for the most frequent type of complaint made to the FTC from the state, at 14 percent, up from 10 percent of the complaints in 2008.
The lists do not break down the complaints by type for specific metropolitan areas.
In the tax form of identity theft, a thief may try to use someone else's Social Security number for employment, in which case the Internal Revenue Service might think the victim has not reported all of his or her income.
Other times, the fraudster uses a victim's personal information to forge a tax return and claim a refund. When the victim files taxes, the IRS thinks he or she already filed and sends back a letter stating as such.
"My son was born the victim of identity theft by being issued a Social Security number that had already been in use for five years for illegal employment," Harrisville resident Jennifer Andrushko said at a recent town hall meeting held by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
She co-founded Defending Our Children's Future, a group that tries to raise awareness about the issue.
The organization has a strong stance that politicians, law enforcement and businesses should crack down on the hiring of illegal immigrants.
The state government is trying a different strategy to protect children against identity theft.
In January, the Utah Attorney General's Office launched a website that is meant to protect the identity of minors.
Parents or guardians can submit their child's name, birth date, address and Social Security number through a secure online form to TransUnion, one of the three national credit reporting companies.
TransUnion adds each minor's Social Security number to the database the company uses to alert creditors about potential fraud risk when requests for credit reports are received. This remains in place until the minor turns 17.
Ogden Police Lt. Tony Fox advises people to simply be careful with their personal information.
"There are all types of scams out there," he said.
Those who do not recognize the area code of a phone call or do not know the caller should do due diligence before giving out information, Fox said.
With online banking, it's easy to keep track of your finances on a daily basis, he said.
In 2011, the FTC received about 12,400 consumer complaints from Utah, the highest for the state since at least 2008, according to the FTC's annual reports.
Identity theft complaints for the state as a whole were slightly higher last year than in 2010, but much lower when compared to 2009.
Those who receive a notice from the IRS should respond immediately, the organization advises. Do so either through the IRS website, irs.gov, or by calling 800-908-4490.