Identity theft - someone stealing your personal information to use for illegal purposes - is a crime that is growing exponentially.
A 2007 Federal Trade Commission report estimated that 8.3 million Americans had been victims of identity theft in 2005.
Stealing a person's identity is easier now than at any time in the past, thanks to computers and public access to personal data. Criminals know that businesses are reluctant to prosecute individual cases and often consider losses a "cost of doing business."
Many state laws consider the victim to be the business that was defrauded - not the person whose identity was stolen. While these laws are gradually being changed, the very nature of the crime makes the perpetrator difficult to identify and prosecute.
For these reasons, the victim of identity fraud must personally take steps to limit damage to his or her financial standing, credit history and peace of mind. There is no shortcut to fixing problems caused by identity theft, and the process could take months. The average victim spends at least 30 hours to resolve the situation.