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PEWAUKEE, Wis. – The holiday season may bring good cheer but the Wisconsin Credit Union League is helping consumers beat the identity theft blues that can also pop up this time of year. Listed below are just a few ideas from the league on how consumers can better protect themselves against ID theft: * Consumers planning to shop online should make sure they are doing so at legitimate Web sites to guard against phishing, which is the online solicitation of consumers’ personal data by thieves who “bait” potential victims with emails and lure them to websites that appear legitimate. Contact retailers directly to make sure that the site as well as the information being advertised is legitimate. * Limit the number of credit and debit cards you carry that way if your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ve made it harder for crooks to “cash out” on multiple cards. * Never carry your social security card unless you know you will need it. * Don’t disclose personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with. * Memorize your PIN number and online password. * Check your credit report. During 2003, the Federal Trade Commission received more than half a million consumer and identity theft complaints. Consumers reported losses from fraud at more than $400 million.

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