Stop! ID thief!

Tuesday, 16 December 2003, 3:51 PM EST

More than three million people in the United States were the victims of identity-theft-related fraud in the past year, according to a recent survey by the Federal Trade Commission. These people have had accounts opened in their names by scam artists, they’ve had their names given to the police by crooks stopped for various infractions, and they’ve had their homes sold out from underneath them. Damages to these victims average more than $10,000 per theft.

Grim as these statistics may be, the growing amount of credit card fraud is even worse: more than five million people had sham transactions dropped onto their credit card statements last year, and more than a million others have had non-credit-card accounts misused, including savings and checking accounts. Fortunately, you can protect yourself using a combination of ingenuity and tech savvy.

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