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Identity theft common around Holidays

Identity theft crimes hit home for more than eight million adults in the US in 2005, according to a new report from the federal trade commission. In ten percent of cases, victims surveyed said they paid at least $1,200 to settle charges to stolen or fraudulent credit cards or bank accounts. Add to that the hours they spent repairing their credit reports. Nearly 40 percent of victims reported being harassed by debt collectors, denied credit or loans, having utilities cut off -- even getting sued. And more than half of victims said they still don't know how the thieves got a hold of their personal information. Experts at the non-profit identity theft resource center say the holidays are prime time for thieves. They recommend you leave your social security card at home -- don't carry it in your wallet. Lock your mailbox to avoid mail theft. At the mall keep receipts in your wallet, not in shopping bags. If you apply for a store credit card don't fill out the application at the register where others can see. Don't talk too loudly on your cell phone. Often people -- especially seniors -- don't realize others can overhear personal conversations.

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