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In the course of a busy day, you may write a check at the grocery store, charge tickets to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax returns, call home on your cell phone, order new checks or apply for a credit card. Chances are you don’t give these everyday transactions a second thought. BUT SOMEONE ELSE MAY.

The 1990’s spawned a new variety of crooks called identity thieves. Their stock in trade is your everyday transaction. Each transaction requires you to share personal information: your bank and credit card account numbers; your income; your Social Security number (SSN); or your name, address and phone numbers. An identity thief co-opts some piece of you information and appropriates it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. An all-too-common example is when an identity thief uses your person information to open a credit card account in your name. Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and thousands of dollars – cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, cars, or even be arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. Humiliation, anger and frustration are common feelings victims experience as they navigate the arduous process of reclaiming their identity.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), working with other government agencies and organizations, has produced a booklet to help you guard against and recover from identity theft. Can you completely prevent identity theft from occurring? Probably not, especially if someone is determined to commit the crime. But you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information wisely and cautiously.*

For more information, you can go on to the FTC web site at: www.consumer.gov/idtheft and download or read the ID Theft booklet that they provide. It covers everything you will need to know.

* The above excerpts are from the ID Theft booklet "When Bad Things Happen To Your Good Name"

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