Money: Don't Lose Credit!

Heidi Journey's dreams of opening her own business were shattered when the bank she applied to for a loan found out about her credit history. Journey owed $10,000 on a Discover card, had a Volkswagen Jetta repossessed after failing to make payments, broke an apartment lease, didn't pay college fees and owed money on utility and cell-phone bills.

She learned about those debts the same day the bank did. (Journey had never asked for a Discover card or leased a Jetta.) She was the victim of the worst kind of identity theft--new accounts opened in victims' names without their knowledge, as...

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