WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A recent rash of identity theft cases, in Louisville, Kentucky has authorities warning residents to safeguard their personal information. The state attorney general’s office has advised consumers not to give out vital information such as birth date and Social Security number to solicitors or retailers. Authorities have also suggested shredding documents containing personal information, such as prescription labels, deposit slips, pay stubs, insurance policies and credit card applications. Currently the largest area of loss continues to be in credit cards, however experts say identity theft is on the rise in the area of mortgages and home equity loans. Among preventative measures, experts advise collecting data and screening not just the borrowers but also all of the industry participants in loan transactions including mortgage brokers. Boston-based research firm Celent Communications estimates that financial institutions will increase spending on measures to prevent identity theft from $730 million in 2002 to over $2.5 billion in 2006.

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