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Identity Crisis

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As society gets more high-tech, so do the thieves of personal information

By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
Published August 18 2008

America is having an identity crisis. Literally.

More than 8 million people each year discover that someone is operating as their alter ego. Armed with their Social Security number, birth date, mother’s maiden name and any other information they can get their hands on, these identity thieves open credit card accounts, apply for jobs and get car or student loans under their victims’ names.

Though the prevalence has dropped since 2003, when almost 10 million people reported being victims, identity theft continues to run rampant. And as society gets more high-tech, so do the thieves.

Earlier this month, authorities charged 11 people in the theft and sale of more than 41 million credit and debit card numbers that the suspects allegedly obtained by hacking into the wireless computer networks of retailers including TJ Maxx, Marshalls, OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW. It’s believed to be the largest federal hacking and identity theft case ever.

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