The seventh annual National Consumer Protection Week, launched by the Federal Trade Commission, kicks off this week. This year's theme "Identity Theft: When Fact Becomes Fiction," focuses on minimizing identity theft risk and taking fast action if an identity thief strikes. Identity theft affects approximately 10 million Americans each year, the agency estimates. A recent survey indicates that the dollar volume of the crime was $52.6 billion in 2004 – much of that cost is accrued by businesses. Identity thieves open new accounts in other peoples' names and rack up debts on existing accounts, using consumers' Social Security numbers, bank account information, addresses, or phone numbers. Identity theft victims may spend years – and large sums of money – re...
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