My sister Carolyn and my dear friend and co-worker Karla Brown belong to a club. It is not exclusive. It has no benefits, only detriments. Over 41 million Americans have already joined this club to their absolute dread. Lucky you are, if you haven't been inducted.

Last night I became one of it's latest members.

Someone stole my identity and used my checking account debit card to buy themselves stuff they didn't have to pay for! When it happened to Karla, she was told that for most Americans, it wasn't a matter of if it would happen, but merely, when.

My sister's case was very serious and involved years of trying to regain control of her financial life. Karla's was an anxiety-producing headache too. Mine, (so far) has been a stomach-churning, aggravation, but was caught very early, thanks to a quick response fraud alert from First Premier bank. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

I plan on immediately getting my free credit reports from Annual Credit Report to see what else these thieving jerks may be up to. Which is just one thing everyone should do every few months to keep tabs on your credit situation.

You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three big credit reporting agencies once a year. They suggest you request one every 4 months, to keep on top of the ever-evolving industry of identity theft year-round. This time though, I'll be getting all three at once.

For more tips on protecting yourself from this mind-boggling, anger-inducing, sleep-depriving crime go to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and good luck. Believe me, you don't want to join this club!

Source: NBC News, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Annual Credit Report

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