Like wolves to injured prey, identity thieves are out to turn the recession struggles of average Americans to their own advantage.
"In my adult life, I've never seen more varations of old scams and the degree of sophistication in newer scams," says Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com.
The Identity Theft Resource Center predicts an increase in the number of identity theft crimes and victims during the next two years.
Particularly vulnerable are jobseekers whose desperate search for employment makes them easy targets for fake job listings and work-from-home scams.
"If the job description is not one that you would see printed on a business card, or you are asked to front money, it's a scam," says Siciliano.
Also on the rise are the misuse of social media and phony ads on Craigslist and other Web sites for the purposes of obtaining credit card numbers or cash.
Most disturbing has been the growing problem of child identity theft, sometimes by the child's own family.
"The ITRC has noted that nearly 10 percent of its case load for the past six months involved child identity theft issues," says founder Linda Foley. "It's as if people have finally realized that a child's Social Security number can be used for more than just opening a line of credit."
Visit the ITRC Web site to learn how to protect your personal data from thieves and hackers.
Finally, in the countdown, 1: Your kids
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