Local police are joining Oregon Attorney General John Kroger in reminding consumers to take steps to avoid becoming identity-theft victims.

Local police are joining Oregon Attorney General John Kroger in reminding consumers to take steps to avoid becoming identity-theft victims.

"Identity theft is a big problem in Oregon, and it can wreak financial havoc on people's lives," said Kroger in a press release announcing National Protect Your Identity Week. "You cannot completely protect yourself from identity theft, but there are important steps that can greatly reduce your risk."

Consumers who believe they may be the victim of identity theft are encouraged to file a police report with their local law enforcement agencies. They also can call the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Hotline at 877-877-9392.

Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George agrees that identity theft remains a problem, though he believes it might have declined somewhat in recent years, in part because of heightened awareness of the risks.

"People are becoming more aware of it and are taking more steps to guard their identities online," George said.

The Medford Police Department classifies identity theft under multiple tags, such as fraud, counterfeiting, credit card fraud and forgery. Those numbers are mostly falling or holding steady so far this year, George said.

"Still, it's important that you don't leave your wallet in your car or in your grocery cart and walk away," George said. "Identity theft still occurs and you don't want to make yourself an easy target."

The Medford Police Department provides an instructional packet for avoiding identity theft and what to do if your identity is stolen. See it at http://tinyurl.com/2d5zasd.

Another resource is the Department of Business and Consumer Services (DCBS), which has information regarding safeguarding personal information — on its website at www.dfcs.oregon.gov/id_theft.html. DCBS also can provide presentations to businesses and organizations to help them better understand their requirements under Oregon's identity theft law. Contact the DCBS Division of Finance and Corporate Securities toll-free at 866-814-9710 or 503-378-4140.

National Protect Your Identity Week is sponsored by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Better Business Bureau. For more information, see www.protectyouridnow.org.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.