Imagine that someone steals your credit card and charges hundreds (or, gasp!, thousands) of dollars on it. Are you sunk? Nope, you're only responsible for $50.

By law, consumers can't be held responsible for more than $50 if they are the victims of credit card fraud and report the theft promptly. To avoid paying more, contact the card company as soon as you notice that a card has been lost or stolen.

In addition, be careful with "pre-approved" offers you receive in the mail. If you toss them out and a dastardly sort picks one up, he can change the address on it to his own and get a card in your name -- yet another way identities get stolen. It's not a bad idea to buy a paper shredder to destroy credit card offers and documents with confidential information. At office supply stores, you should be able to pick up a modest shredder for around $20 or $30. It's a simple way to help avoid the massive headache of identity theft.

If you or someone you care about is mired in credit card debt, learn more in our Get Out of Debt area. Our Credit Center also offers many surprising peeks into the credit card industry.

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