How to protect yourself from identity theft?

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1. What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone assumes your identity and opens bank, credit card or other accounts to commit fraud or theft. The Federal Trade Commission says the crime is growing at an alarming rate, with approximately 300,000 reported cases in 2002. And, creative crooks are plotting new schemes all the time.

2. How does identity theft happen?
Con artists need only one slip of paper to steal your identity. Go inside the mind of an identity thief who knows firsthand what you should do to protect yourself. Check out his tips.

3. What if I’m a victim?
You must prove you’re a victim of identity theft — not a deadbeat who doesn’t want to pay bills. Act quickly and follow these 8 steps to clean up your credit. This worksheet will help you track your calls.

4. Can I protect myself?
Vigilance is your best weapon. Routinely check your credit report for unauthorized activity, guard your Social Security number and keep track of all your accounts. More tips.

5. Is help available?
Some companies are joining in the battle but do you need their help?

6. Why are students at risk?College students forced to flash their Social Security number on a daily basis need to be especially careful.

Learn more

The price of shredders ; Dr. Don’s advice on identity theft; Identity theft horror story; IRS identity theft scam; Attack of the cloned cards; Fed to banks: Take basic steps to stop identity theft


A clean-your-credit worksheet ; Quiz: Are you safeguarding your identity? ; How to order and read your credit report ; 8 steps to take when your identity is stolen ; Identity theft Q & A