What I learned about identity theft when it happened to me

I will probably never know who stole my credit card or how they did it. Since the card never left my wallet, it's most likely that the information was stolen during an Internet transaction. I'd like to be able to say that I used only reputable online retailers during my frenzied holiday shopping, but when I was truly desperate (a toy called the marble run vortex, sold at major retailers, comes to mind...), I ordered via small, obscure companies, if they had the goods I was after.

Police officers have also told me that credit card theft is common at restaurants: Wait staff either copy the information by hand or use a machine that resembles the one used to swipe a credit card to steal credit card data, then they sell the information. According to the privacy rights clearinghouse, nine million people a year report identity theft.