Chapter 7. Identify Theft and Your Credit

Identity theft is such a rapidly-growing crime that some experts say it's no longer a matter of whether you'll become a victim—it's a matter of when.

The Federal Trade Commission, which once estimated that identity theft affected 700,000 to 1 million Americans each year, announced in 2003 that the problem was vastly greater than it had guessed. In fact, an FTC- commissioned survey found that 27.3 million Americans have been victimized in the past five years, including 9.9 million people in the past year alone.

The annual costs of this crime are staggering:

  • $48 billion in annual losses for business and institutions

  • $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses for consumers

  • 300 million hours spent by consumers trying ...

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