Money: Runaway ID Theft

Identity theft is soaring. The crime is up 79% from February 2002 and hit an estimated 7 million people in the past year, according to the research firm Gartner. How can you shield yourself? The Identity Theft Resource Center, a not-for-profit organization, suggests that consumers check their credit ratings annually from the credit-reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Don't write your Social Security or driver's license number on checks, don't respond to suspicious e-mail requests, and go easy on yourself if you're victimized: fraudsters have hit everyone from Steven Spielberg to Tiger Woods. --By Daren Fonda

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