(COLUMBUS, Ohio) As a comedy movie about a victim in pursuit of an identity thief debuts this weekend, Attorney General Mike DeWine reminded Ohioans that he takes the problem seriously, having created last year the Identity Theft Unit, within his Offices Consumer Protection Section, that helps identity-theft victims. It offers victims two programs: Traditional Assistance and Self-Help Assistance.

Identity theft is a serious problem, said Attorney General DeWine. We can help victims repair their credit and get their lives back on track.

One of the first steps consumers who believe they are victims of identity theft should take is to file a report with their local police department or sheriffs office.

If an identity-theft victim chooses the Attorney Generals Traditional Assistance program, a specialist will work on behalf of the victim to contact credit reporting agencies, creditors, collectors, and other entities that may have information obtained under fraudulent circumstances. Individuals interested in Traditional Assistance must submit a copy of their police report, an identity-theft notification form, and an identity-theft affidavit giving the Attorney Generals Office permission to work on their behalf.

For the Self-Help program, the Attorney General will provide victims with the tools they need to help resolve the issues on their own. Those who choose this option will also be assigned a consumer advocate who will be available to help them navigate the process if guidance is needed.

Attorney General DeWine offered consumers these tips to help protect against identity theft:

Shred all documents that contain personal information before you dispose of them.

Keep copies of credit cards (front and back) in a safe place so you will be able to call and cancel them if they are stolen.

Check your credit history at least once a year using www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. If you notice suspicious activity, contact the appropriate credit bureau immediately.

Review your medical, bank and credit card statements thoroughly upon receipt and notify the provider/institution of any discrepancies.

Those interested in learning more about the Identity Theft Unit and its available programs should contact the Ohio Attorney Generals Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.