Watch Out for Idenity Theft Scams 

(AP) The Department of Professional and Financial Regulation cautions consumers that the shopping season is a prime time for identity theft. Superintendent Lloyd LaFountain notes that the economic downturn may spur a rise in financial crimes.

Officials say consumers should avoid carrying their Social Security number and should take only the credit cards they need. People should also shred any mail that contains personal information, be suspicious of solicitors and use extra caution on the Internet.